Heaps of readers wrote to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper after Apax Holdings Joint Stock Company, the majority owner of the APAX Leaders English center chain, submitted an explanatory letter to the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange (HoSE) addressing accusations of employee salary debt and tuition fee scams.
In the letter, Apax Holdings’ chairman Nguyen Ngoc Thuy refered to accusations levied against APAX Leaders by the press as 'shortcomings.'
Both APAX Leaders and Apax Holdings’ managers are working together to come up with appropriate solutions to the issues of its student fee debt and failure to provide services to students, Thuy said.
He stated that media reports about APAX Leaders “did not have a great impact on the businesses of Apax Holdings” because the parent company operated independently, despite its 66.36 percent ownership of the chain.
Constant accusations, refund requests
Previously, Tuoi Tre reported on accusations against APAX Leaders for appropriating tuition fees.
Accounts given by many parents to Tuoi Tre detailed that APAX Leaders centers in Buon Ma Thuot and Bien Hoa, the capital cities of the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak and southern Dong Nai Province, respectively, accepted tuition fees for long-term courses but failed to run classes.
Many former employees also accused the chain of owing them their salaries.
On Wednesday, letters from readers flooded Tuoi Tre’s inbox, with many insisting that Apax Holdings refund tuition fees to APAX Leaders students.
“Why did he [Nguyen Ngoc Thuy] not mention anything about refunds [in his explanation to the HoSE]?” a reader named Sang Tran wrote to Tuoi Tre.
A reader named Le Phuc also wrote to Tuoi Tre to share that he had paid tuition fees for his two children’s courses at the APAX Leaders center at GigaMall shopping mall in Thu Duc City, Ho Chi Minh City for a whole year, but the center closed less than a month after his children enrolled.
“I went to the center to demand a refund but all the staff had quit their jobs over unpaid salaries,” said Phuc.
“Now I still have to pay the tuition in installments though my children have not taken any lessons for three months.
“[I feel] very bitter about being scammed like this.”
Reader Nguyen Chanh Minh criticized the APAX Leaders branch on Vo Van Ngan Street in Thu Duc City for stealing his money.
The branch asked him to wait 90 days for a refund of his tuition fees despite having promised to refund over a month ago.
“The tuition fees were paid immediately, but the refund process is sluggish,” Minh said.
“I plan to take legal action and claim a deposit equal to commercial banks’ interest rates.”
|The APAX Leaders English center in Buon Ma Thuot City, Dak Lak Province, Vietnam. Photo: Tr. Tan / Tuoi Tre
Many readers insisted that Apax Holdings should be responsible for refunding tuition fees due to its major stake in APAX Leaders.
Reader Nang Nguyen requested that chairman Thuy explain the crisis at APAX Leaders from his perspective as the owner of the English center chain rather than his perspective as the chairman of the board of directors of Apax Holdings.
Nguyen also pointed out that Thuy’s explanation failed to take any responsibility.
Kha Truong, another reader, called on authorities to launch an investigation into APAX Leaders.
“It doesn’t make sense to leave a company with insufficient financial capacity in debt to people for such a long time,” Truong said.
Operating on loans
Apax Holdings was established in 2012 and opperates in the financial investment, education and training services, financial services, and trade promotion sectors.
It provides educational and training services through its three subsidiaries Apax English Corporation, which manages 120 APAX Leaders centers across Vietnam, IGarten Education Joint Stock Company, and Firbank Australia School Joint Stock Company.
Chairman Thuy stated in his letter to the HoSE that the two latter subsidiaries were in progressive operations.
Apax Holdings recorded a net revenue of more than VND1.04 trillion (US$41.96 million) during the first three quarters of 2022, a year-on-year decrease of nearly 25 percent, according to the firm’s consolidated financial statements released during the third quarter.
The enterprise retained an after-tax net profit of approximately VND24 billion ($968,328) after deducting all costs and expenses, up 10 percent from the same period last year, when the most severe wave of COVID-19 hit Vietnam.
As of the end of the third quarter, the firm was in a short-term debt of more than VND55.8 billion ($2.25 million) to employees, a jump of more than VND330 million ($13,314) from the beginning of this year.
Its total liabilities were valued at over VND3.19 trillion ($128.7 million), double its equity of about VND1.61 trillion ($64.96 million), as its business activities mainly depend on loans.
Its assets reached VND4.8 trillion ($193.66 million), up four percent compared to the beginning of the year.
Apax Holdings’ IBC shares closed at VND15,800 ($0.64) apiece on Wednesday, marking a decrease of 25 percent from the beginning of the year.