Stadio announces profit, reveals plans for higher education in SA

Stadio Holdings increased its income from R34.6m to R301m during the six months to June 2018.

Over the interim period its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) went from -R0.9m to R59.9m it announced on Monday.

Stadio unbundled from Curro Holdings and listed on the main board of the JSE in October 2017. It is an investment holding company, which focusses on investments in higher education institutions.

Stadio’s core headline earnings per share amounted to 4.0 cents per share against a loss of 0.7c per share in the six months to June 2017. This follows core headline earnings of R31.9m compared to -R2.9m in 2017 interim period.

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 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," he explained.

“Whilst 2017 was a founding phase for Stadio and 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.

Van der Merwe told Fin24 that since 2015 the number of students attending public universities have basically remained flat.

"This tells us that thousands of students cannot get into popular public universities despite having qualified to do so in matric," says Van der Merwe.

He points out that, although SA has a very high unemployment rate, it is only 5% among graduates.

"Therefore, we say that if we can create more graduates, youngsters will have a better chance of getting a job. That is what drives our venture.

He says over time Stadio wants to structure its costs in such a way that distance learning is about R22 000 a year and contact education about R50 000 a year - in line with public university education.

According to Van der Merwe, public universities have a limited infrastructure and state subsidies to cater for the growing need.

Therefore, it makes sense to him that closer collaboration between public universities and the private sector. It is in this space that Stadio wishes to play a role by broadening access for students.

In the period under review Stadio’s student numbers grew from 1 112 by June 2017 to 27 777 students currently.

“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,” said Van der Merwe.

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.

“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,” said Van der Merwe.

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 accomplish a set of 10 faculties over time, consisting of education and training; business and commerce; natural and life sciences; agriculture and nature conservation; engineering and manufacturing; health and medical sciences; information technology; architecture and the built environment; creative industries and law; and security and political sciences.

Stadio will soon embarking on the development of its first more comprehensive campus in Cape Town's northern suburb of Durbanville.

“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,” he said.

In September last year investment holding company Brimstone announced an empowerment transaction with Stadio.

No dividend was declared.

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