Healthcare and education private equity investment analysed in the UAE

  • Education and healthcare experts meet as part of LBS’s inaugural Catalyzers Series

Experts from across the Middle East believe that the UAE’s education and healthcare sectors are experiencing a pivotal period of growth. The comments were made at  London Business School’s first Catalyzers Series forum, which  brought together leading industry figures in Dubai.

The event, held at Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel, featured two panel discussions on the future of investments and private equity in education and healthcare. Leading healthcare magnate Dr. B. R. Shetty discussed his revolutionary work within the nation’s healthcare industry and London Business School Term Professor of Accounting Florin Vasvari delivered a keynote speech about current market scenarios.

Speaking on the future of education in the country, Emad Mansour, CEO of Audacia Capital, highlighted that the industry is entering a crucial phase enabling it to reach its potential. Opportunities to invest are plentiful in the sector, he commented, however investors need to be more discerning.

The panel collectively agreed that the education space in the country has had many new entrants in recent years as Dubai becomes more visible on the global map as a world-class destination for prospective students.

Dr. Pablo Fetter, Education Investment Expert and former CEO of Kings’ Education added that Dubai “is second to Singapore in the schools market internationally,” highlighting the level of investments into the sector, which he described has seen a shift in the school landscape locally.

The UAE has invested $2.72 billion into the education sector, marking a 22 per cent increase in government spending on education. The UAE Vision 2021 National Agenda emphasises the development of a first-rate education system, which will require a complete transformation of the current education system and teaching methods.

Founder and Executive Director of Learning Curve Holdings and LBS alumnus, Basem Abu Dagga, has been carefully analysing the full value chain within the education investment market. He believes there are still some fantastic opportunities to make money with some very ambitious and solid operators. He also touched on the future of education and the amount of reform that will be necessary to reinvent outdated systems and curriculums.

The panel shed light on the supply of  skilled teachers to the education market in Dubai, which must be kept in line with growth in student numbers to ensure the welfare of the industry. Dr. Fetter also spoke about technology and innovation – pillars of Dubai’s advancements – having an impact on education.

Dr. Anshul Govila, LBS alumnus and Deputy Chief Operating Officer at Universal Hospitals, led a panel which comprehensively discussed the scope of investment in the healthcare sector in the UAE.

Rebecca Samuel from ICME Consulting elaborated that the market is growing at a compound annual growth rate of more than 13 per cent over the last few years. Mark Adams, CEO of Anglo Arab Holding, explained that growth is in spite of funding pressures.

A more detailed discussion around healthcare assets in the lower end of the middle market, including single physician and multi-physician owned practices, was led by George Traub, CEO at Lumina Advisors and Simi Nehra, Director of M&A at KPMG. Both panellists stressed how a commercial due diligence exercise of these assets is difficult to conduct because of the lack of commercial maturity of these establishments. Naji Hawayek, Partner and expert corporate lawyer at Clyde and Co stressed the importance of a legal three-stage process.

The discussion then centred on public-private partnerships (PPP) in the UAE, which the experts agreed is yet to realise its full potential in the healthcare space. Nasser Massoud, LBS alumnus and Managing Director at Concept Realisation, highlighted examples from the UK’s NHS of successful partnerships around orthopaedic care.

Finally, George Sakou, Senior Banker at IFC, ran a session looking at how the UAE can be used as a platform to raise capital for investment in other healthcare projects in Africa and elsewhere.

The Catalyzers Series, a new collection of forums organised by London Business School’s Gulf Association and The Learning Curve Holdings, will focus on a range of sectors that are at the heart of the UAE and the Gulf Region’s future.

London Business School has been developing the region’s business leaders for the last 10 years from its Dubai Centre at the Dubai International Financial Centre, which offers the Executive MBA programme.