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Stadio’s traction gets good results

Stadio Holdings, the JSE listed investment holding company that focuses on investments in higher education institutions, has gained further traction in the tertiary education market, with attractive profits during the six months to June 2018.

Stadio’s core headline earnings per share amounted to 4,0 cents per share against a loss of 0,7 cents per share in the six months to June 2017. This follows core headline earnings of R31,9 million (2017: R2,9 million).

Income increased sharply from R34,6 million to R301 million during the period under review with EBITDA moving from -R0,9 million to R59,9 million.

Stadio successfully unbundled from Curro Holdings and listed on the main board of the JSE on 3 October 2017.

Announcing the results, Stadio CEO Dr Chris van der Merwe said he is very pleased with the group’s performance at the mid-year stage.

“The decision to list on the JSE separately from Curro has proved to be the correct one,” he said, “with a single management team focusing on the new listed entity. Furthermore, it makes the reporting less complicated and it gives shareholders a choice of investment in two independent listed entities.

“While 2017 was a founding phase for Stadio, also to obtain a suitable set of qualifications through acquisitions in the higher education space, we are now at a point where we have 59 accredited qualifications with a further 47 in development.

There are currently about 167 000 students enrolled at private higher education institutions in South Africa, and about 1 million students enrolled at public universities. It is accepted that public universities have a limited infrastructure and state subsidies to cater for the growing need.

So it makes sense that closer collaboration between public universities and the private space will contribute to widening access.

With the NDP’s aim of 1,6 million students by 2030, further capacity to accommodate an additional 300 000 to 500 000 is necessary. “The higher education market has more than enough room, and it is in this space that Stadio wishes to play a role, by broadening access for students,” Van der Merwe said. In the period under review, Stadio’s student numbers grew from 1 112 in June 2017 to 27 777 students.

“With enrolment also in the second semester and distance learning as part of its learning mix, a figure of 30 000 students is not that far off,” Van der Merwe said.

He said Stadio’s longer-term vision is to have all its current brands – Embury, AFDA, SBS, LISOF and Milpark, under the brand name of Stadio Multiversity. This will take time, but eventually provide students with many benefits.

“A single brand makes marketing easier, and will also allow students to migrate easier between qualifications, transfer their credits from course to course and from campus to campus,” Van der Merwe said.

Of great importance to Stadio is that the degrees on offer should be in line with what is needed in the workplace.

The company aims to have 10 faculties over time, consisting of Education & Training, Business & Commerce, Natural & Life Sciences, Agriculture & Nature Conservation, Engineering & Manufacturing, Health & Medical Sciences, Information Technology, Architecture & The Built Environment, Creative Industries and Law, Security and Political Sciences.

“We remain positive about the prospects, as Stadio will soon embark on the development of its first more comprehensive campus at Durbanville near Cape Town,” Van der Merwe said.

“The aim is to eventually accommodate about 5 000 contact students and 15 000 distance learning students on the Durbanville campus and, later, to expand this blueprint to some of the other provinces.”

The Stadio model, with both contact and distance learning has the benefit of not necessarily requiring vast infrastructural investment. In Stadio’s prelisting statement, a student number of 56 000 is envisaged by 2026.

“This in time can grow to 100 000 students, of whom 70% are expected to be distance learners,” Van der Merwe concluded.

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