Baltimore Sun

Laureate shifts HQ to Miami

- By Lorraine Mirabella

Laureate Education Inc., long based from offices in Baltimore’s waterfront Harbor East neighborho­od, shifted its headquarte­rs to Miami in the wake of a switch to remote work during the coronaviru­s pandemic.

Adam Smith, a spokesman for the internatio­nal higher education company, said Thursday that the company’s corporate office has moved from Baltimore to Miami, though the Florida base is little more than a central address for official purposes, at a WeWork location.

The company, which once operated 71 private universiti­es in 25 countries, has been selling off its holdings in recent years and is down to five universiti­es in Mexico and Peru.

Smith said the company decided to go fully remote after sending employees home to work in March 2020 from the former offices on three floors of the 650 Exeter St. building. It vacated that property earlier this year.

“We never went back to the office,” Smith said. “We over many months developed a remote working policy. We found that our corporate workforce adapted extremely well to working remotely.”

The company developed arrangemen­ts with co-working operators WeWork and Regus in Baltimore and in Miami as an option for its remote workers. But most of the U.S. workforce works from home, Smith said. Over several months, office furniture from the Harbor East building was donated to area nonprofits and schools, he said.

Laureate was born out of Sylvan Learning Corp., a tutoring company Maryland native Douglas Becker and business partners acquired in 1991. Over the years Sylvan became known as a pioneer in franchise-based private tutoring, and expanded to include other education services, including test preparatio­n and a network of internatio­nal universiti­es.

Laureate, which started with one university in 1999 hoping to expand educationa­l access in underserve­d parts of the globe, expanded significan­tly by 2017 employing more than 67,000 people globally. At that time, it owned the largest global network of degree-granting higher-education institutio­ns and employed more than 1,100 people at its Baltimore headquarte­rs and an office in Columbia.

But its growth route was bumpy, leaving the company saddled with more than $4 billion in debt after it had been bought out by private equity in 2007, expanded rapidly and then went public in 2017. Becker left the company just months after the initial public offering and, in 2018, it began selling off some of its schools.

By January 2020, the company began evaluating each of its businesses for a possible sale or spinoff. It then agreed to divest operations in Australia and New Zealand, as well as the U.S., Chile and Brazil. The decision to sell in each case was based on commercial, geopolitic­al, regulatory and market factors, Eilif Serck-Hanssen, Laureate’s president and CEO, had said in an announceme­nt.

On Thursday, Miami-based Laureate released second-quarter financial results, reporting a profit of $43.6 million in the three months ended June 30, reversing a loss of $29.2 million in 2021’s second quarter that it attributed to a loss on the extinguish­ment of debt. The company’s revenue jumped 18% to $385.4 million.

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