8 Y X. V A M ' B G L O B A L G A M B L E
Student* chance claue* tt UotomldJtd Europe* de Midrid, a private eoOegc la wbldi
Sjtna Leamlnf Sraema Inc. bought a eoatroninc ti&trat to 1999.
arithmetic and risk
Transformation: 'Die Bnliimmr China.
Quietly, the company tnat made Its name
uini|iaii known for tutoring tiijJdron tutoring American children In strip shopping
vrnlurrs into Imching FnglLsli mid centers has become a pioneer In a quite dif-
ferent market: for-profll higher education
for-proni higfitT education abroad around the world.
Sensing limits to tutoring • few years ago.
the company began seeking other avenues of
First of two parta growth. A study It commissioned led It to In-
ternational higher education, a market wi'.h
seemingly vast potential and virtually un-
touched by major companies.
Last year, the international operations, in-
cluding the colleges and a chain that teaches
English to adults, generated slightly more
VILLAVICIOSA DE ODON. Spain - than half of Sy Ivan's $484.8 million In revenue.
About 20 miles southwest of Madrid, past Though it Is siill perceived by the public
suburbs with glass office, buildings, condo- largely as a tutoring company for American
miniums and big-box retailers consuming the school Mds, Its moves abroad haw gained the
land where farriers once raised wheat and Interest of Investors and educators.
wild bulls, lies the future of a Baltimore com- Education might be as old as the day civi-
pany. lized man put chisel to slate, but profiting
Sylvan Learning Systems Inc. owns and from It on a grand scale Is a relatively new de-
operates a collect here. velopment beyond textbook publishing. For
As It does ID Chile. Switzerland, Franc* that reason, opinions about Sytvant foreign
and Mexico. foray range from unrestrained adulation to
As It might someday in India And maybe deep skepticism. (See Sylvan. 12*]
I T Z . V A M ' 8 G L O B A L G A M B L E
The new export: education
[Si/loan, from Page IA] Lwaflons
•It's one of the best business
Splxxm reaches abroad worldwide
home runs I've seen In quite a
while. It's the best of American The Baltimore-based company Is still mostly known for
entrepreneurshlp to go and ex- its after-school tutoring centers, but tt has quietly
port what we do best." said Implemented what It described In its 1909 annual report,
Kosrno Kalllarekos of the Par- as 'a new strategy... (to) emerge as the largest network
thenon Group, a Boston firm
that consults for education com- of private unfverslttes in the world, with a unique focus on
panies. Including Sytvan. technology, language and International skills.*
Not everyone Is convinced Syl-
van's new course Is correct
The best business Is the tu-
AD updated image
toring business, a truth that Is
lost on Investors due to the
noise surrounding the rest of
the enterprise." Howard M.
Block, a Bane of America Secu-
rities analyst, wrote In a report
last month that sent the stock
tumbling and spurred Investors
to trade 4 muiion shares In two
days — quadruple the norm for
The company Is. Indeed, sUtl Sytvan changed Us toga last year to subtly reflect the shia in
best-known for Its K-12 tutoring Its business. A silhouette of a boy with a soup-bowl haircut
nicknamed •Johnny Reader* became a more abstract
humanold form that masked nationality and age.
Some In Congress referred to
the millions of dollars In tu-
toring grants In President
A changing Sylvan revenue pic
Bush's education reform pro-
gram as the "Sylvan amend-
ment." Jay Leno mentioned the
company In a Joke the other
night on his Tonight Show and Lnstmcuon 12th grade
got an Immediate rise, and in-
stant recognition, from his stu-
dio audience. The company even
received odd praise about its
teaching style from 'Una-
bomber* Theodore J. Kaczynstt: 57%
Before his capture In 1096. he
wrote in his manifesto that the
company had *great success In
motivating children to study.*
"All of a sudden, you would IntcmaUonal
say 'Sylvan' and Instead of peo- unrverslUes I— online
ple saying. *What* that?', they'd International Online
say. 'Oh. I've heard of that,' • higher universlUes higher
Joan Ralner said recently as stu-
dents lined U-shaped tables at DUUS u. •«•!• : *<>•>
one or two centers she fran- SOURCES. Hoovers Inc. US. Sfomitci and
chises In Philadelphia.
But Sytvan'a other ventures — The stock closed up 25 cenU encourage their formation. Thry
from English tutoring in foreign Friday at $14.46. are often run by churches or u.
countries to college degree pro- The Jury's still out on this In- mom-and-pop businesses.
grams on the Internet — now ternational initiative." said Oer- BiroUment In them Is still a
produce more Income than the aid A Hecgcr. president of Uni- tenth of that In historic public
after-school help for kids and an versity of Maryland University universities in Spain, but the
Increased share of the profit College, one of the largest pro- gap Is shrinking. Public univer-
grams to offer degrees world- sity enrollment declined by 3
Mora money, now look wide over the Internet. percent last year, private Insti-
Sylvan's higher-education "Legislators, trustees and re- tutions' enrollment grew by 10
profits climbed to $26 million gents are stem taskmasters, but percent.
last year from 52 million In 1996. they tend to give a university Universldad Europea was
K-12 tutoring profits grew to $35 time to execute* said Heeger. •mono* t hi- flmt uf thl* rwrw crap
million from $26 million during who describes himself as a tan of of private colleges, beginning
the same period, according to Sylvan's move. "I'm not sure with 1.400 students in 1995.
the company's most recent an- that Wall Street analysis are as Soon, the co-owners began to
nual report. forgiving." argue over spending, according
Sytvan altered Its corporate to university employees who
logo to subtly reflect the geo- jsldlory worked there at the time
graphic and demographic shift Assessing Sytvan's future has Syrvan already had a connec-
In Its trade. The silhouette of a been complicated by an arm of tion with the school because It
boy with a soup-bowl haircut — the company, apart from the did contract work there with a
"Johnny Reader' — was colleges, that Invests In start-up testing company It owned called
changed last year Into a more companies that combine educa- Prometrlc Inc. The majority
abstract humanold form that tion and technology. owner of the university, to his
masked gender and age. That subsidiary. Sytvan Ven- partner's dismay, sold his £4
Sytvan now runs more learn- tures, lost more than (SO million of Sylvan Learning Center*' Owner* Association meet In a conference room at tbe percent stake to Bytvnn for «1
ing centers in Europe than In each of the past two years, more corporation's Inner Harbor East headquarters. million in 1099.
North America, most under the than wiping out the gains In tu- "To a degree, theyVe been
brand name Schulertillfe. a Ger- toring and higher education. Be- subtle about changes, but I've
man company that Sylvan ac- cause of that, S> I van'.-, profit pic- On Sunspot heard comments about how
quired for $29.5 million In 1998. ture the past three years has great It Is that the Americans
Sytvan also operates an Lng- been erratic: A $305 million For more on Sytvan. go to are coming In Unlike the owner
Ush-tutorlng chain overseas — windfall earned on the success- wwwAinspotneUsytvaa before who promised a sports
Wall Street Institute — whose ful sale of a testing company In center for years, Syrvan came In
100.000 customers are often 2000 was sandwiched between and did it,* said David Folken, a
young professionals seeking ca- losses of $17 million In 2001 and Banners around Sytvan's col- SL Louis transplant who taught
reers with multinational corpo- $15 million In 1999. lege In Spain — Unlverstdad Eu- English at the college before Syl-
rations. Last winter the com- In fact Sytvan's corporate bal- ropea de Madrid — reflect the van arrived.
pany hired an Internet executive ance sheet often comes In two marketing prowess of the new Under Sytvan, the college Is
from Hong Kong to lead a push flavors: sweet without Ventures owner Dramatic signs with spending XII million on a new
Into Asia, considered vast fertile losses, and sour with them. faces of students and an up- sports complex with an Indoor
ground for English learning. It Douglas ;. Becker. Sytvan's lifting tagllne. Vision de Future. swimming pool, basketball and
even reported post-Sept. 11 en- chairman and chief executive of- The immaculate campus re- squash courts, and $5 million for
rollment gains in Saudi Arabia, ficer, vows that tbe Ventures sembles many small suburban new clinics where dental and po-
where a Wall Street Institute Is unit will turn profitable by 2004 colleges In the United States. diatry students will practice.
across from the business owned as more of Its offshoots succeed. Students wearing Reebok back- Syrvan also set up wireless an-
by Osama bin Laden's family. Sytvan will also likely split into At a Sytvan Learning Center tn Philadelphia, Nlcbole Strange, 10, packs drain cash from a bank tennas so students have access
three companies tn the next few work* wUb ber tutor, Stepbanle BruneUL machine before dashing to their to course material or the school
HoadlriBatrond years, to focus on their distinct next p-i"*- Others bound across library from their laptop com-
Sylvan Is part of a trend — businesses. Becker said: one about Its accounting and tbe but I couldn't do that," said Lisa a wide footbridge over an orna- puters anywhere on the grounds
some say It's leading It — or edu- stock for International higher risks of Its overseas strategy. 2. Ramirez, a vice president at mental pond that Joins the mod- — the first "wireless campus* In
cation service providers moving education, another for online The hazards became evident ern buildings, ringed by olive Europe. It said.
in several directions and on sev- higher education and a third for this summer — first when Syl- LLC In Colorado, one of the trees and violet hills. 'This l- much better here
eral continents at once. Others the traditional tutoring for kids. van delayed breaking ground on largest shareholders to sell out now." said Claudio Fevre, 21 a
similarly branching out include All three companies would a new college In India because of this year. Denver sold I million 'A good reaction' transfer student from Chile.
Kaplan Inc.. a well-known test- likely remain In Baltimore, fears there of war with Pakistan shares in February that were •When Syrvan bought this, ev- "America has a good name."
preparation company that has where Sytvan currently employs and then when It postponed worth $25 million and consti- erybody knew It It was a good Untversldad Europea Isn't
opened an online law school. 470 people full time and 150 part spinning off the universities as a tuted 2s percent of Sytvan's 40 reaction. It's good to know that cheap: Tuition Is about 10 times
Another is the University of time Worldwide, it has about separate stock because of Wall million shares outstanding. your small university belongs to the cost of public tuition. Stu-
Phoenix, which runs the largest 3,600 full-time and 8.000 part- Street's gyrations. Now It's un- "My preference for stocks Is a bigger structure." said Fabian dents In Madrid's public univer-
chain of colleges for adults seek- time employees. certain when it will do either. simple businesses, easy to un- GnnzAles. 22, an exchange stu- sities will pay $750 to study
ing degrees In the United States The numbers don't fulry re- Most Wall Street analysts who derstand." Ramlref said. "I was dent from Chile who previously health sciences during the com-
and is pursuing that market flect the company's symbolic follow the company look past a little nervous with what hap- attended a university that Syl- ing school year. Their peers will
overseas. The Washington Post Importance In the city, where the venture losses and believe pened with Knron. Tyco, these van bought In his homeland. pay $0,500 at Sytvan's college.
Co. owns Kaplan and Is an In- Sylvan'* logo looms from atop the core business Is strong. Fif- businesses that are very difficult •Schools here are part of a
vestor in the International arm one of the new waterfront tow- teen analysis rate the slock a to follow and know exactly network so there are opportuni- Paying c&n bo difficult
of the University of Phoenix. ers of the revitalizing Inner Har- "buy" or a "strong buy." and a what's going on with the ac- ties. Also, teachers here are full That might not present a bar-
Whether Syrian's bold move bor East few have recently raised recom- counting" time. In Chile, teachers are pan rier In growing Madrid or Barce-
succeeds is still unknown. Wall In a city that has watched Its mendations. time. In Chile, my teacher also lona, but It would In much of
Street reacted well to It last roster of business headquarters "It's a buying opportunity* Marketing oxporloaco worked at the Central Bank." Spain where household Incomes
year, but a half-year of gains In dwindle as finance and Insur- said Alexander P. Paris Jr. of In the Internet era. when To understand Spain's effort average $21.500 in U.S. dollars.
the stock price were wiped out ance companies were gobbled Barrington Research Associates many 'can't-mlss* new ideas to remake Its higher education, Spanish workers also face the
In a matter of weeks this sum- up by larger companies else- Inc. In Chicago, who upgraded missed spectacularly, a com- one needs only to compare the highest unemployment and low-
mer after a few analysts ques- where, Sytvan has filled some of his rating to "strong buy* from pany embarking on an ambi- age- of Its public and private est wage gains In the European
tioned the company's account- the corporate ctvlc void. It was "accumulate" last month and tious plan only marginally re- universities Union. And grants and loans for
Ing methods while the account- the first company to open a na- thinks the shares will be worth lated to Its area of expertise — The 51 g o v e r n m e n t - r u n students are only half as com-
ing misdeeds of Enron Corp., tional headquarters In down- $33 within a year. They have and never attempted before — is schools date back as far as 1218; mon In Spain, where 17 percent
WorldCom Inc. and others were town Baltimore in 20 years when one of the best brand names In enough to gtve anyone pause. the largest began before Colum- receive them, as In most Indus-
making headlines it relocated from suburban Co- education." But Sylvan had already pulled bus set sail Tor the New world. trialized nations.
The stock has outperformed lumbia In 1997. Others, however, are less cer- off this trtck once, with tutoring: Most of the 17 private Institu- Several students at Untvcrsl-
the Standard & Poor's 500 index That move was characteristic tain about the company's web of It took what was mostly a cot- tions, on the other hand, are less dad Europea said they were
by as much as 30 percent during of the company, according to venture Investments and un- tage Industry and. In a few short than a decade old. The Spanish happy to be there but lamented
the past year, until last month some observers: daring, novel, tested strategies. years, marketed and managed government, disgruntled by civil that their parents had to pay so
when It dropped below It for the aggressive. But those tenden- -IWall Street) looks past tbe Its way Into becoming the larg- servants' opposition to reform of much because their grades
first time. cies have also raised questions losses In that venture business. est provider In the world. the universities, passed laws to weren't high (See Sylvan. 13*]
S Y & V A M ' B G L O B A L G A M B L E
[Sylvan.from Page 12*] the simplification he desired,
enough to qualify for the public Sylvan profits have been
Institutions. dragged down the past two
*I didn't want my father to years by losses In the venture
have to spend • lot of money, subsidiary It launched at the
but I realize It Is important * height of the Investment frenzy
said E d u a r d o H u e l l n . a In technology The handwriting
24-year-old student from Barce- Is on the floor, not the watt, In
lona. State-of-the-art broadcast the case of Sytvan's predica-
studios at the school wU help ment: An Indoor basketball
prepare him for a Job at a televi- court was planned, aod marked
sion station In Spain, he said. off. at Sytvan's year-old head-
•Public universities have been quarters, but It was never fin-
here forever, from the 13th or ished because the play/work
Mth century. You only have to ethic of the "new economy' dot-
pay a little bit, but the public com companies became unfash-
universities haven't made ionable almost as soon as Syl-
enough Investment In the last 30 van moved In.
yean for new degrees," said One Ill-fated venture Invest-
Miguel Carmelo. who became ment in a corporate-training
general manager at the school company called Caliber Learn-
after a long career at Unilever, ing Network inc. ended In bank-
the Dutch consumer products ruptcy — and In so much bad
manufacturer. There are plenty blood that Sylvan dropped Its
of spaces for doctors, for exam- p a r t n e r In the v e n t u r e .
ple, even though Spain has WorldCom Inc. as Its corporate
enough of them, but not chough phone company.
classes for physical therapists
'Parents suffered In their ca- Millions In red itih
reer because they dldnt know Sylvan would have made 97
about English or technology, or cents a share last year, but It
they dldnt travel enough. They ended up losing 46 cents a
wanted better for their children. share, or $174 million, because of
... We're building a structure, the red Ink In ventures. Its
what we caQ the 'Sylvan Signa- fledgling companies range from
ture,' * be said. a Web site that administers bulk
Eschnnge students fnim other Sylvan-owned universities meet on Hie central footbridge at Uorvenidad Europea. Claudlo Pevre (left), purchasing for universities to a
In steps of the ulnt 21, la from Santiago. Chile; Julian Vincent (center), 20, U from Paris; and Fabian (females, 22, comes from Puerto Monti, Chile. Joint project with O-.vir.Rs MlUs-
The concept of an Interna- based Aether Systems Inc. to
tional group of universities actu- develop handheld wtrele&s de-
ally dates bacK centuries, said vices for classrooms.
Juan Salcedo Martinez, rector of "As in any portfolio, some in-
Sytvan's university network. The
Jesuits, the Roman Catholic or-
Worrisome numbers la lions and some have not,* said
der founded by St. Ignatius Loy- Larry Berg of Apollo Manage-
ola In 1534. MJ-.ichi to assemble a ment. Sylvan's main co-Investor
worldwide system of higher edu- 137. I In Sylvan Venturas. 'Overall,
venture portfolios are not per-
cation 300 years ago — minus
the stock offering. ceived as highly today as when
They didn't have the technol- we started."
ogy of this moment, the Inter- The company has also stum-
net, the computer, the modem
world. The Jesuits were vision-
ary. but they didn't have the
tools to do it.- Martinez said.
Sylvan has said It plans to ac-
shake stock's value bled in Spain with Its English-
language tutoring business, an
example of the risks of export-
Six years ago. Sylvan spent
quire up to a dozen schools. $21 million to buy a Barcelona-
some general-education and By ANDREW RATNEB year, the last quarter's operating loss should based chain with an English
others specializing In a skill, be part of the write-down for the overall sale sounding name, the Wall Street
such as a business school It pur- of the business, she said. Institute. Sylvan more than dou-
chased In Parts last winter. The The httackers on Sept. 11 dldnt disrupt Block, however, wasn't the first to cast bled the number of centers to
five universities so far have be- Sytvan Learning Systems' stock, but How- doubt on Sytvan's numbers 450 and spread to 23 countries,
gun sharing curricula and ex- ard .'-' Block did on July 30. Herb Qreenberg. who writes financial ad- from Chile u> China.
pertise and offer some transfer That's when Block, a Bane of America Se- vice columns on the Internet, wounded Syl- But the company miscalcu-
opportunities for students, who curities analyst In San Francisco, claimed In van1* stock In early June when he said that Net income lated in Spain, where It eventu-
now total more than 50.000. a report that Syrvan "misrepresented' Its the company was Improperly mixing the ImnimcxuofcloUui ally added M centers to the 100
They are the pioneers In this accounting for the second quarter of 2002 — It started with. The chain's blue
form of higher education,' Mar- a withering charge with investors already In He contended that Sylvan should Include signs became almost as ubiqui-
Jorle Peace Lena, executive di- a state of high alert over accounting irregu- In Its main financial calculations the cost of tous in Madrid as McDonalds
rector of UK Center for Quality larities. advertising its new online tutoring, because golden arches are In Baltimore.
Assurance in International Edu- Block also lowered his recommendation the ads simultaneously attract customers to To make matters worse, one of
cation In Washington, said of for Sylvan's stock to a "market perform* rat- Its learning centers as wen. In his view, the Its executives Jumped ship and
Sytvan. They are the first to ac- Ing from a more positive "buy." company counted revenue but not the full started a similar chain called
tually purchase existing institu- Opening English School that
tions instead of creating them, He contended that Syrvan Improperly cost of gaining that revenue, making It look further saturated the market
and In that there Is a brilliance lumped recent operating losses for English- better. Sylvan announced last month
because It Is not easy to start tutoring centers It owns Into an overall $11 Weeks later, another Investment research that ll will ball out of the un-
major Institutions from scratch.* million write-off It has claimed as It prepares firm, the Rockvllle-based Center for Finan- profitable buslnes* In Spain,
But others foresee limits be- to sell the part of the global chain located In cial Research A Analysis Inc.. reiterated likely selling Its centers to a
Spain. that view.
cause of resistance to tuition Other analysts who follow the company franchisee or another buyer.
and to foreign ownership of uni- With that loss separated from Its main
versities. earnings. Sytvan's profits ended up 2 cents a dismissed the criticisms as uninformed. Ad- Quest for domlnanco
Their strategy Is buying up share higher at the end of the quarter. That vertising for online tutoring Is too meager Yet as recently as last winter.
existing universities, and there margin might seem minute, but It wu yet to help the tutoring centers, several said. Earnings per share Sylvan executives seemed oblM-
are not many universities on the meaningful on Wall Street: The company 'In this environment. It's easy to pour ous to the problem.
market It doesnt seem to me a was able to exceed analysts' earlier expecta- coals on anybody, and these kind of charges "Doug thinks It's one of the
very clear business strategy of tions, and Its stock Jumped 14 percent. are hard to defend." said Jeffrey M. SUber. best Investments he's made*
Just buying up what's available.* Sytvan shares closed at $16.19 after the an analyst with Gerard tOauer Mattison In Rick Arevato. then president or
said Kurt ijirsen, who studies company's announcement July 25. up from New York. Wall Street Institute, said In an
education trends for the Organl- $14,17 a day earlier. The article Implied that we're not being Interview In late 2001. "Berlin is
tatlon for Economic Co- transparent when we're being as transpar-
But five days later, the stock sharply re- ent as anybody could ask.' said Douglas L. more traditional. They might
operation and Development, a say 10 centers In France Is satu-
group of SO major Industrial Becker. Sytvan's pJiftiman and chief execu-
dropped 27 percent, to $13 67 a share from tive officer. ration. We'd say 100 centers are.
$18.78. the 14th-largest percentage drop on We want market dominance."
the Nasdaq stock market that day. The stock was at $28 a share on May 17. With that mindset. Sylvan
Tuition an alien Idea By comparison, the stock fell 9 percent two weeks before Greenbergs newsletter ar- poured $6 million Into advertis-
•We certainty don't approach when the market reopened last September a ticle ricocheted aroundsewer chat rooms
online like a bullet In a
investor ing and another half-million Into
the level of fees of the Stanfords week after terrorists crashed Jets Into the The SO percent drop In the stock price Riu/y center redesigns to make
and Harvard:, but the students world Trade Center, the Pentagon and a over the next two months mirrored a rocky them more appealing to an up-
can't understand the concept" Pennsylvania field. scale audience. Some Madrid
of tuition, said Andree Sursock span for the company In 1999 when some centers were renovated to re-
of the European University As- Sylvan officials defend their accounting. analysts also raised accounting concerns Stock price semble chic coffeehouses, with
sociation, an Industry group In Their assessment Is supported by an ac- The stock dropped 07 percent In roughly exposed brick and large wall
Switzerland. 'It will be very counting professor who was asked by The eight months that year, to $11.19 on Nov. 2 graphics of Inte ma Uonaldlles.
much a marginal market." Sun to review Block's report. from $34 on Feb. zs. 'A train wreck.' Becker called
The World Bank in Washing- Susan Lynn of the University of Balti- Sylvan's stock rebounded In 2000. The the situation recently, "in Italy,
ton concurred that •cost-shar- more's Robert C. Merrick School of Busi- company helped boost the price by buying we have 40 to 50 centers In the
ing* between the state and par- ness said Sytvan's handling of the Spanish back 13.2 million of Its own shares at $15.17 whole country. In Spain, we have
ents isn't likely to succeed In loss was proper under Financial Accounting apiece. 160 centers and (our competi-
many countries without a "func- Standards Board guidelines. The company's board recently approved a tors) have 150 to 160 centers,
tioning student loan program to Under rule changes that took effect this buyback of up to 3 i million shares. The number of centers doubled
assist students,' a report said. since we bought It, but demand
Several companies have long dldnt double. It was Insane to
operated Tor-profit colleges In think that It would."
the United States, mostly tech- While Becker acknowledges
nical and trade schools. But ago. pany It later sold for a large were Institutions and corpora- the English-tutoring meltdown
they said a lack of student aid Becker and his business part- profit that administered driver's tions, such as Prometric. Keep in Spain, he believes that the
overseas, like the kind that has ner and boyhood friend. R license tests In Britain, among only those that sold directly to university there Is part of a
fattened American college en- Christopher Hoehn-Sarlc, liked various exams. consumers because those could larger success story that's about
rollments during the past half- the tutoring business but began Becker and Hoehn-Sarlc's be measured similarly by inves- to reap rewards. The heartbreak
century, deters them from Inter- to see Its growth limits. They ambition was to have Sylvan be- tors and required like skills. of Caliber Learning Network's
national expansion. had bought Sylvan In 1991, In come one of the biggest educa- Those businesses Included pronged solution that the board premature spin-off Into a quick
"We've had inquiries from their 20s, with mlllioas they tion services companies In the the tutoring centers, the inter- approved in January 20001 The bankruptcy Is behind Sylvan, he
other countries The desire Is made from an Invention that world. Owning universities In national universities and a chain company began buying back said.
there, but the financial where- stored medical records on a other lands could help them do based In Barcelona that tutored $200 million worth of Us shares •Caliber was a very bitter les-
withal doesn't appear to be," plastic swipe card. It. they thought. adult* in English. Becker Imag- to spur demand and Increase son, but the universities are the
-ally ined himself Inside a wind ma- the stock price. It also created a anti-Caliber." Becker said. The
man and chief executive officer produce several hundred mlllh chine with dollar bins blowing $400 million pool of capital to In- universities are a (200 million
of ITT Educational Services Inc. dollars a year In revenue, they But there were more prob- around, as In a TV game show. vest In new education-related company that Is profitable. We
of Indianapolis, the largest oper- realized, but they wanted bil- lems. In 1699. analysts began with a goal to pick only the few companies. have proceeded incredibly care-
ator of post-secondary technical lions. Questioning the company's ac- big bills and leave the small de- Its venture partners Included fully on this. It's ready."
schools In the United States. Growth In for-profli colleges counting of Its myriad busi- nominations behind. Apollo Management LP. a $10
"Perhaps Sylvan will break Intrigued them, so they commis- nesses. Sytvan's stock began to Then-Deutsche Bane Alex. billion private equity firm that
ground for others like us.' sioned a study In that area. But plummet, from nearly $34 a Brown shopped Prometric for commlUed $100 million. It has Canting tomorrow
Sytvan's Becker remains confi- the findings were discouraging: share In February 1999 to Just Sylvan. It received a bid from no relation to Sytvan's similarly
dent of the strategy. To succeed, Sylvan was unlikely to become a over $11 by autumn, Canadian media conglomerate named competitor, the Apollo Douglas L.
the company needs only to cap- leader In the field In the United Becker aod Hoehn-Sarlc shut- Thomson Corp. at a price that Group. Sterling Partners LP. a Becker (top) aod
ture a silver of International States, which already had sev- tied between their adjacent of- Sylvan's executives had hoped Baltimore fund led by Becker's R. Christopher
markets that even skeptics de- eral large established companies fices overlooking Baltimore's In- for but dldnt expect: $775 mil- older brother, Eric, was among Hoehn-Sarlc, the
scribe as undereervcd. he said. operating colleges. Top among ner Harbor and worried about lion — more than the market several smaller Investors In Syl- duo behind Syl-
•International universities are them was the Apollo Group Inc.. the future. value for all of Sylvan. van Ventures. van and Its Jour-
one of the least risky businesses whose University of Phoenix This is not worth dying over." Time for celebration — and 'It was like the end <>r TTte ney Into higher
IVc seen." he said In one of sev- now has 116 locations, including Becker told his partner, but the another problem. Godfather, when all the scores education, didn't
eral Interviews for this article, three In Maryland. stress was taking a toll. Becker The company had to reinvest get settled at the same time,' finish college
"We picked a low-risk country to The study did reveal a crack. warned his new bride, Erin, that the money. It wouldnt attract Becker said. Though no blood themselves but
start This was a university on though. Developing nations he might have to cut short their investors by sitting In a bank ac- was shed, Becker felt he had re- made millions In
training wheels for us. We have were beginning to seek answers honeymoon to deal with the count. Becker also feared the made the company In a way business by their early 20s.
very deliberately gone about to their lack of coOegc opportu- concerns about the company. windfall made the company prey that would ease the move Into Tomorrow. The Sun looks at
this," nities for a growing middle class. Through that autumn, the to a hostile takeover by a larger more promising areas, such as
Sytvan's shift Into higher edu- Sylvan had experience overseas partner*, devised a plan: Sell off firm that would skin the cash. adding universities. their company.
cation began quietly six years with Prometric, the testing com- the companies whose clients His Inner circle devised a two- Becker hasn't yet achieved