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Brazil's Ser Educacional prices IPO below target range


SAO PAULO, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Brazilian education company Grupo Ser Educacional SA and shareholders sold 619.4 million reais ($283.7 million) of stock in an initial public offering that priced below the suggested range on Friday.

Ser Educacional shares were sold at 17.50 reais each, according to information filed with securities regulator CVM, well below a proposed price between 19.50 reais and 23.50 reais.

The cheaper price might be a sign of flagging investor demand for the industry's second IPO in two days. Education company GAEC Educação SA and a shareholder sold 468.2 million reais of shares on Thursday.

Half the proceeds of Friday's share sale will be used to fund Ser Educacional's expansions plans, while half will go to shareholders who want to cash out.

The blockbuster IPO of BB Seguridade in April capped a string of successful listings on the São Paulo Stock Exchange to start the year, but enthusiasm waned as the Brazilian economy slumped in the third quarter.

Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras SA, Brazil's third-biggest airline, and cement company Votorantim Cimentos SA both scrapped plans for public listings in August, as rising inflation and stagnant economic growth battered investor confidence.

Brazilian education companies have pulled off a steady stream of share offerings to fund rapid consolidation of a promising sector.

Brazil's $11 billion-a-year education industry has grown at a double-digit rate in recent years because a tight job market demands a skilled labor force with better technical knowledge, stronger analytical abilities and foreign language proficiency.

Ser Educacional's IPO was originally scheduled for a week earlier, but CVM temporarily suspended the share sale until the company included relevant tax information in the offering's prospectus.