BEIJING, March 26, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- ATA Inc. ("ATA" or the "Company") (Nasdaq:ATAI), a leading provider of advanced testing technologies and testing-related services in China, today announced that the Company has entered into a framework agreement for a strategic investment in Beijing Biztour International Travel Service Co., Ltd. (“Beijing Biztour”), a provider of international educational study tour and travel services for students in China who are interested in overseas study tours primarily in the U.S., United Kingdom, and Australia.

ATA to Explore Potential Opportunities in International Education
As previously announced, the Company has embarked on an effort to explore merger and acquisition opportunities within the education sector in China. Driven by increased demand for more diverse international education opportunities by urban families in China, the international educational travel market is particularly attractive as a growing number of China-based students seek short- and long-term international education opportunities. China remains the world’s no. 1 source of international students and sends the largest number of students overseas for study. According to the Ministry of Education, 544,500 Chinese students pursued study abroad opportunities in 2016, more than triple the 179,800 students who sought overseas education in 2008.

Beijing Biztour – China’s Largest Provider of B2B Educational Tour Services
Beijing Biztour specializes in providing comprehensive affordable, high-end solutions for study tour products, which include overseas learning and tour service provisions. Through its B2B distribution network, Beijing Biztour serves more than 7,000 students each year and is one of the largest educational tour service providers in China. Beijing Biztour has an extensive global network of overseas partners including 1,100 host families, 300 part-time team members in the U.S. alone, and close relationships with many well-regarded school districts and top universities including Harvard, Columbia, Stanford and MIT. Beijing Biztour also partners with over 200 education camps focused on a variety of subjects and over 300 globally recognized companies. Beijing Biztour has over 15 product categories including language, sport, art, math, robotics, technology, leadership, and outdoor activities. Beijing Biztour has over 30 study tour destinations in the world and over 300 study tour products. Beijing Biztour has served students from all over China.

ATA believes that Beijing Biztour has built a solid foundation for its business’ long-term sustainable growth. By leveraging the synergies between ATA’s and Beijing Biztour’s respective products, operational capabilities, markets, resources and competencies, ATA believes the management team of Beijing Biztour will be in a better position to maintain its leadership position within the industry and accelerate the growth of its business.

Highlights of the Strategic Investment
Under the terms of the agreement, ATA will provide US$2.0 million in convertible bonds, valid for one year at an 8% interest rate, to Beijing Biztour in support of growing its operations. ATA will be granted a six-month exclusive negotiation period with Beijing Biztour during which ATA will conduct due diligence and determine whether ATA will work toward a definitive acquisition agreement with Beijing Biztour to acquire 100% of the shares of Beijing Biztour. Should ATA move forward with the acquisition before the convertible bonds mature, the US$2.0 million in convertible bonds will be capitalized and converted into shares of Beijing Biztour. If ATA does not move forward with the acquisition, Beijing Biztour shall return the principal of US$2.0 million plus interest accrued thereon upon maturity of the convertible bonds’ one-year term.

Management Commentary
Mr. Jack Huang, ATA’s president, stated, “We are pleased to have this opportunity to work with one of China’s largest international study tour service providers and look forward to working with the Beijing Biztour team on growing the business and pursuing prospects for expansion and diversification through our synergies. With its extensive network of education and service partners in the U.S., Beijing Biztour is well positioned to take advantage of the growing demand for study tours in China by leveraging its experience and knowledge in curating unique and enriching experiences for the Chinese students.”

Mr. Kevin Ma, ATA’s Chairman and CEO, stated, “As we previously mentioned in our earnings conference call on March 19, 2018, we plan to leverage our existing competency-focused assessment and education service capabilities and the strategic opportunities that we have been working on to transform our company into a leading international education service provider. We have been exploring the possibility of using the proceeds from the ATA Online transaction to fund potential M&A opportunities within the education sector. ATA’s collaboration with Beijing Biztour is one of such opportunities, and we will also continue to explore and validate other potential areas of expansion as the Company works toward closing the ATA Online sale.”

About ATA Inc.
ATA is a leading provider of advanced testing technologies in China. The Company offers comprehensive services for the creation and delivery of assessments based on its proprietary testing technologies and test delivery platform. ATA’s testing technologies are used for professional licensure and certification tests in various industries, including information technology services, banking, teaching, asset management, insurance, and accounting. As of December 31, 2017, ATA's test center network comprised 3,344 authorized test centers located throughout China. The Company believes that it has the largest test center network of any commercial testing service provider in China.

ATA has delivered approximately 100.7 million billable tests since ATA started operations in 1999. For more information, please visit ATA’s website at www.atai.net.cn.

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-looking Statements
This announcement contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements can be identified by terms such as "believe," "could," "expect," "future," "look forward to," "plan," "should," "will," and similar terms. Examples of forward-looking statements in this press release include statements about ATA’s plan and efforts to transform itself into a leading international education service provider; the benefits of and use of proceeds from the sale of ATA Online; the expected use of the proceeds invested by ATA in Beijing Biztour; ATA’s plans for mergers and acquisitions generally; the anticipated benefits to ATA’s expansion efforts into the international education studies market; and the ability of ATA and Beijing Biztour to cooperate effectively and to introduce offerings and build partnerships in China. These forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties, are based on current expectations, assumptions, estimates, and projections by both ATA and Beijing Biztour, and are subject to governmental approvals and other conditions. The Company undertakes no obligation to update forward-looking statements, except as may be required by law. The Company cannot assure you that its expectations and assumptions will turn out to be correct, and investors are cautioned that actual results may differ materially from the anticipated results.

For more information on our company, please contact the following individuals:

At the Company
ATA Inc.
Amy Tung, Chief Financial Officer
+86 10 6518 1122 x5518
amytung@atai.net.cn                                                                                                                 

Investor Relations
The Equity Group Inc.
Carolyne Y. Sohn, Senior Associate
415-568-2255
csohn@equityny.com

Katherine Yao, Senior Associate
+86 10 6587 6435
kyao@equityny.com

Adam Prior, Senior Vice President
212-836-9606
aprior@equityny.com