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Intueri plans to merge 6 NZ training schools into single entity, memo shows

Thursday 29th September 2016

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Intueri Education Group plans to merge six training schools in New Zealand into a single entity in an amalgamation that it says will simplify its relationship with the Tertiary Education Commission and the NZ Qualifications Authority and reduce administration, phasing out the name of a school being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office.

The changes are detailed in a memo today to staff and were confirmed by acting chief executive Rod Marvin, who was busy in a meeting and asked for emailed questions. Academy New Zealand, IT Training, Quantum ES, Design and Arts College, Elite International School of Beauty and Spa Therapies and Cut Above Academy will continue to have their own directors but will answer to the director of the new entity to be known as Intueri Education New Zealand.

Labour's tertiary education spokesman David Cunliffe said New Zealand's education authorities need to scrutinise the proposed amalgamation.

"I would want to see the TEC make a very clear statement that they are going to be monitoring the implications of this merger, especially because it includes some things that are being investigated by the SFO," Cunliffe said.

Intueri shares rose 20 percent to 12 cents today on the NZX, having shed 80 percent of their value on Tuesday after the company said there was a risk that an Australian government audit of its subsidiaries across the Tasman could threaten the viability of the company.

"Each school will continue to operate and be marketed as it is currently and under its existing brand," Andy Walker, Intueri general manager for organisational capability, said in the memo. "However it is planned to phase out the Quantum brand, and from 2017 new intakes will be under the Academy NZ brand."

The company is under siege from regulators and educational authorities. Audits by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) found that Online Courses Australia (OCA) and Conwal & Associates weren't compliant with its standards. Intueri has until Oct. 21 to respond before the ASQA makes a decision, with possible outcomes ranging from a directive to correct areas of non-compliance through to the full cancellation of OCA and Conwal's registrations as registered training organisations (RTOs).

Cancellation of the registration for Conwal, which generates some 95 percent of OCA's revenue, "would place serious doubt on OCA Group’s ability to continue to operate, and also significantly impact Intueri’s ability to remain a going concern as it would be unlikely to meet its future banking covenants," Intueri said on Tuesday. OCA accounted for 35 percent of Intueri's $50.1 million of revenue in the six months ended June 30.

In New Zealand, the company's Quantum school is under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office and has attracted the interest of the Financial Markets Authority over its prospectus. The TEC has also reviewed funding for two of its schools.

The merger doesn't involve the company's NSIA, NZ Institute of Sport, NZ College of Massage and NZ Scool of Commercial Diving, Walker's memo said.

BusinessDesk.co.nz

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