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SAO PAULO, Aug 22 (Reuters) - Ser Educacional SA, Brazil's third-largest listed for-profit education company, has hired lawyers to lobby against a merger of two larger rivals, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter.
Ser Educacional hired advisers from law firm Sampaio Ferraz Advogados to try to block the merger, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the matter is private.
A source previously told Reuters that Ser planned to use all legal means to ensure that the merger, involving Kroton Educacional and Estacio Participacoes SA, met antitrust rules.
A spokesman for Brazil's CADE antitrust authority said it has yet to be formally notified of the merger.
Shareholders of Kroton and Estacio approved the combination on Aug. 15 and it has been touted as a deal that will create the world's largest education firm by number of students.
Kroton managers said the deal would be submitted to CADE for approval once shareholders gave it the greenlight.
In June, a branch of Brazil's National Bar Association filed a complaint against the deal saying the combined company would have too much market power. A few days later Estacio accepted Kroton's offer valued at about 5.5 billion reais ($1.72 billion), rejecting Ser Educacional's own offer of 590 million reais and a share swap.
Ser, Kroton and Estacio did not immediately return requests for comment. Sampaio Ferraz Advogados did not return a request for comment.
Kroton and Estacio have said previously in securities filings that they were studying proposing potential remedies to win CADE's approval of the deal, including possible asset sales in the distance-learning segment.
$1 = 3.1993 Brazilian reais Reporting by Ana Mano; editing by Christian Plumb and Tom Brown