Laureate agrees to sell university in Morocco

Laureate Education Inc., a Baltimore-based company that owns and operates a network of international for-profit universities, plans to sell its university in Morocco to KMR Holding Pédagogique, a private higher education company based in Africa, for $53.6 million.

Laureate said Thursday it will sell its Universite Internationale de Casablanca, which opened in 2010 in Morocco’s economic and education hub and is the only state-recognized comprehensive private university. The school offers undergraduate, graduate and executive education programs in business, engineering and health.

The companies expect the sale to close by the end of the second quarter.

In an interview in November, Eilif Serck-Hanssen, who succeeded longtime Laureate CEO Doug Becker on Jan. 1, said Laureate planned to leave less profitable markets and develop technology to serve new, emerging markets with a demand for low-cost education.

Laureate has more than one million students enrolled at nearly 70 institutions in 23 countries, both on campuses and online in undergraduate, graduate and specialized degree programs. KMR has more than 7,500 students in Marrakech, Casablanca and Dakar.

Laureate became a public company, selling stock last year, but remains heavily in debt. Laureate shares closed up 80 cents Thursday at $15.38 each before news of the sale was released.

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