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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Troubled Westerdals set for takeover

Westerdals, the private communications school in Oslo whose owners landed in trouble after claiming too much public funding and over-charging students, has been bought up by Kristiania University College for NOK 85 million. Kristiania will also assume responsibility for more than NOK 100 million in legal claims against Westerdals.

Kristiania, owned by the Ernst G Mortensens Foundation, will take over ownership of Westerdals from Anthon B Nilsen Skoledrift next week, reported newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) on Friday. DN had reported back in 2015 how Westerdal’s owners at Anthon B Nilsen, the wealthy brothers Nicolai and Peder Løvenskiold and the Reidar og Gunnar Holsts legat, had transferred more than NOK 100 million from the school to their holding company despite a state prohibition on claiming dividends.

The deal was eventually reversed after criticism from state officials but the state has demanded refunds of its state support for the school and several hundred students have demanded refunds of tuition payments that were higher than allowed. Some have already settled in return for compensation, but Westerdals still faces more than NOK 100 million in claims from the state and other students.

Anthon B Nilsen said it no longer wants to operate private schools that also receive state funding, while Kristiania, which operates in Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim, is keen to expand. The sale “fits well with our strategy for the future,” noted Lars Buer, head of Anthon B Nilsen Skoledrift. Solfrid Lind, managing director at Kristiania, said the school was “familiar with the claims (still lodged against Westerdals) and that liquid resources must cover them.” She added it “would be natural” to have a new meeting with the state education ministry to discuss outstanding claims “and take it from there.” The students’ lawsuit is due to go to court in August. staff




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