Sunday, August 03, 2008

80% of Mexicans have cell phones -- really?

Economic notes
Eighty percent of Mexico´s population has a cell phone, according to something called the National Chamber of the Telecommunications and Technology Industry.
The figures I´ve seen elsewhere were in the neighborhood of 55 percent and growing fast. The point is, most people, except for the very old, the very young and the very poor, find a way to own a cell phone. Mexico has a population of around 105 million.

A Baltimore company, Laureate Education, now has more university students on its Mexican campuses than any other Mexican university, public or private. It recently added to its portfolio with the purchase of a large university called Unitec.

The company was taken private by the private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts in 2007. It now has 116,000 students on 40 campuses in Mexico. Overall it owns 37 institutions in 18 countries, with more than 400,000 students.

The current edition of Expansion, a major business magazine based in Mexico City, has a four-page full-color advertising spread promoting an MBA in international leadership through Laureate´s Universidad del Valle de Mexico and its IEDE Business School of the European University of Madrid. According to the advertisement, the master´s program is reconized by the Mexican department of education and the European Community.

Laureate is trying to capture a market of aspiring middle class families who want a U.S.-quality education for their kids but can´t afford to send them to the States or can´t get into one of the very selective free public universities in their country. Apparently Laureate is making a lot of money on this. Private equity firms usually expect high rates of return.

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