PRIVATE education company Curro Holdings will raise nearly R500m via a rights issue to fund growth, and will transfer its listing to the JSE's main board as it lays the foundation for what will eventually be a "serious company", its controlling shareholder PSG Holdings said yesterday.

Shareholders will be able to subscribe for 36 new shares for every 100 held at R6 each - less than half of Friday's closing price of R13,24.

Curro fell as much as 17% to an intraday low of R10,95 after the rights offer was announced.

Piet Mouton, CEO of PSG Holdings, said shareholders were being given a chance to invest in a business with the potential to become "a serious company" in the private education sector dominated by industry major JSE-listed Advtech.

Curro last year listed on the AltX after raising R322m from another rights issue, which was mainly used to repay debt that had funded its expansion.

CEO Chris van der Merwe said Curro had grown from six schools when it listed on AltX to 21 schools, with plans to build seven more this year.

The company plans to expand to 40 schools, with 45000 pupils by 2020. "Further acquisitions of private schools this year are not excluded, " Dr van der Merwe said yesterday.

"Curro is currently in an investment phase with expansion requiring substantial capital input. It is therefore possible that a rights issue will be utilised to finance a single acquisition in the private schools market."

The company's business offering covers expensive private schooling, traditional private schooling aimed at middle-income families, private community schools under the Meridian brand and Curro Junior Academics-branded creches.

kamhungas@bdfm.co.za