Westminster Buyer Under Scrutiny

Kaiwen Education Technology, the Beijing-based company that has agreed to buy Westminster Choir College from Rider University for $40 million, has said it intends to form a nonprofit company and continue to operate the venerable music education institution as an accredited college.

However, the union that represents Rider and Westminster faculty is skeptical of this pledge. In a March 15 editorial in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Joel Phillips, a Westminster professor of composition and music theory, said Rider should continue to operate the school until it can find an academic rather than a corporate partner to take over.

In the editorial, Phillips pointed out that Kaiwen is new to the education business, having opened a pair of for-profit K-12 schools in Beijing less than two years ago. Before that, Kaiwen did business under the name Jiangsu Zhongtai Bridge Steel Structure Co. Limited and was in heavy industry.

Phillips also noted that Kaiwen is tied to the Chinese government. A company called the Badachu Group lists Kaiwen Academy, as a subsidiary. Badachu Group describes itself as a state-owned holding company.

A former Rider business professor, Gerald Klein, said it appeared from Kaiwen’s financial statements that it was not putting up the money itself to buy Westminster.

“When I analyzed Kaiwen’s performance I found the company lost $98 million in 2017 and that it has an extraordinarily high debt-to-equity ratio — 37.50,” Klein said in a prepared statement. “Ratios of .50 or .60 would be responsible for an educational institution.”

“Kaiwen’s cash ratio is only .68,” Klein continued, “which means its current liabilities significantly exceed the company’s ability to pay out of its cash or cash equivalents.” Klein added, “Based on my analysis of the data presented, Kaiwen is one precarious company.”

The sale is being contested by three different legal actions by faculty, alumni, and the Princeton Theological Seminary.

U.S. 1 contacted Kaiwen via an e-mail address on its English language website, but had received no response by press time.

Crosstown Moves

Ophthotech, 700 Alexander Park, Princeton 08540. 609-945-6050. www.ophthotech.com.

Ophthotech, a biotech company focused on developing treatments for eye maladies, has moved from University Square Drive to Alexander Park.

Russian Attack Has Princeton Link

There is a Princeton connection to the Russian poison attack that hospitalized a former Russian spy, his daughter, and a British police officer, and potentially exposed hundreds of other residents of Salisbury, England, to a toxin on March 15.

Vil Mirzayanov, 83, a Russian chemist, told Reuters in an interview in his home in Princeton that only Russia could have carried out the attack, which the British government says was done with a nerve agent called Novichok. “Novichok was invented and studied and experimented and many tons were produced only in Russia. Nobody knew in this world,” Mirzayanov said.

The Russian defector worked at the secret military chemical weapons laboratory that developed Novichok, which is thought to be many times more deadly than other nerve agents. He went public about the program in 1992 and was subsequently arrested on charges of treason. He was eventually released and allowed to move to New Jersey, where he took a job teaching at Rutgers.

Construction Begins on Bordentown Office Campus

Team Campus Phase II, a subsidiary of K Johnson Enterprises, says it will begin construction of Team Campus North, sister complex to Team Campus Bordentown, a mixed-use commercial campus focused on medical and retail office space on Route 130 in Bordentown. The groundbreaking is scheduled for this month.

“We are excited to kick off this next step in the evolution of Team Campus, offering tenants state-of-the-art, modern medical, commercial, professional, and retail amenities and facilities currently unavailable in the local area,” said Kevin Johnson, owner of K Johnson Enterprises.

“The development of Team Campus North follows our success with Team Campus Bordentown and our continued work to enhance our local New Jersey community and meet all of its members’ family, health, wellness, sport, and lifestyle needs.”

Team Campus North will comprise three medical/professional/commercial office buildings totalling 155,000 square feet, and two retail buildings totally 19,600 square feet.

New in Town

Princeton Federal Credit Union, 774 Alexander Road, Princeton 08540. 609-945-6204. Cassie A. Doherty, branch manager. princetonfcu.org.

The credit union has opened a new branch on Alexander Road, moving from its Carnegie Center office. It is the first free-standing branch of the credit union, which also has an office on Princeton University’s campus.

Oyster Point Pharmaceutical, 700 Alexander Park Drive, Suite 301, Princeton 08540. 646-573-7045. Jeffrey A. Nau, CEO. www.oysterpointrx.com.

The pharmaceutical research and development company has opened an office on Alexander Park Drive.

Nominees Sought

Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce, 182 Nassau Street, Suite 301, Princeton 08542. 609-924-1776. Peter Crowley, CEO. www.princetonchamber.org.

The Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce is hosting its annual Women of Achievement awards breakfast on Thursday, June 21, and is looking for nominations for honorees. The deadline is Saturday, March 31.

The event recognizes women in the Princeton region for “unique contributions in activities in their fields of interest, who through their work and determination have successfully attained the respect of their peers and the acknowledgement of the business community.” To submit a nominee, visit the Princeton Chamber website.

Management Moves

Abel HR, 2 Corporate Drive, 8A Corporate Center, Cranbury 08512. 609-860-0400. James W. Bell Sr., president. www.abelhr.com.

Abel HR has hired Ruth Becerril as benefits manager.

“Ruth is experienced in working with benefits and retirement planning with the attention to detail that is necessary for administering benefits” said Jim Bell Sr., president and founder of Abel HR. “She has the outgoing approachable personality and patience that is necessary to work with clients and explain the details of benefits, which these days is quite a job in itself.”

Becerril graduated from Berkeley College an associate degree, received a web development and business programming certificate from Chubb Institute in Jersey City and her Human Resources Generalist Certificate from Society of Human #b#Resource Management.#/b#

Leaving Town

Sitrof Technologies, 700 Alexander Park, Princeton 08540.

The document and records management consulting company has left its Alexander Park office. Its listed phone number was disconnected and its website was down.

Deaths

Walter Stalcup, 75, on March 17. He was an inside sales manager at Mideast Aluminum in Dayton. Services will be held Friday, March 23, at 2 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Plainsboro, 500 Plainsboro Road in Plainsboro.

Albert Saunders Jr., 86, on March 12. He was an inspector for Switlik Parachute and later worked for U.S. Steel.

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