Israeli Court Approves Sale of Test-prep Firm in Liquidation to London-based Company

Global University Systems to pay $900,000 for High Q and continue operations under current name

A High Q test center
Ofer Vaknin

A Tel Aviv court on Sunday approved selling High Q, one Israel’s oldest test-preparation companies, to London-based Global University Systems, just a week after the company had been forced into liquidation.

Tel Aviv District Court President Judge Eitan Orenstein approved the sale to GUS, an international network of higher-education institutions founded and led by Israeli Aaron Etingen, for 3.3 million shekels ($900,000). “The sale needs to be approved otherwise creditors will likely suffer irreversible damage,” he said.

High Q ended up in Orenstein’s court last week after employees alleged they weren’t paid their full salaries for March, leaving many of its 2,000 students adrift. In court, the story emerged that Shem Levy, High Q’s CEO and owner, had left Israel and given up his citizenship for “ideological reasons” and that few, if any, employees had ever met him.

Etingen said on Sunday that High Q would continue to operate under its current name, pay salaries now in arrears and retain 90% of High Q’s current staff. “Our focus is to resume operations as fast as possible, stabilize the company and provide a quick solution for students,” he told the court.

High Q offers students courses to prepare them for the bagrut (high school matriculation) exam, the psychometric exam most institutes of higher education require for admission and courses in spoken English. It has 30 branches around the country.

Founded in 2003 by Etingen, who immigrated to Israel from Russia in the 1990s, GUS provides bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, professional training, English-language training, and corporate and executie education. According to its website, it has campuses in Britain, the United States and Canada as well as in Singapore and Hanover and enrolls some 40,000 students.

Attorney Karen Reichbach-Segal, who had been appointed as temporary liquidator last week, had sought to sell High Q as quickly as possible and said she was inundated with 60 who expressed interest. In the end, only six of them had made concrete offers by last Thursday’s deadline to file.

They included an offer by Kidum, a rival test-prep firm, she told the court, but its offer did not include a price but a commitment to pay 20% of future earnings. Besides a cash offer, GUS’ bid also had the advantage that it has no operations in Israel and would not require antitrust approval, Reichbach-Segal said.