College du Léman shifts financial strategy, sells its land

School frees money for major investments

Geneva, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) - One of the largest private schools in the Lake Geneva region, the College du Léman (CDL) in Versoix, at the edge of Geneva, has sold the land on which the school sits. Suva, Swiss accident insurance company based in Lucerne, is the buyer, making this its second major property investment in Geneva in 2010.

The news was spotted in Geneva’s Feuille d’Avis (official record) by the Tribune de Geneve, which says the unusual amount of the transaction, CHF85 million, made it stand out, as does the uncommonness of owners in the region selling expensive land and continuing to rent it. The sale covers 60 hectares, (ed. note: CHF141.7/m2), with the school having an 85-year lease as part of the sale agreement, according to the Tribune.

The news has not been announced publicly by the school or its parent company, Meritas Family of Schools in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in the US, which owns 19 schools around the world.

CDL’s administrative director, Françoise Bommensatt, told the Tribune that the sale is definitely not a sign of financial problems, but rather a shift in strategy, to free up money to invest in major renovations. CDL opened in 1960 and was sold in 2005 by Francis Clivaz’s family to Meritas, an education group owned by Sterling Partners, a US-based investment company. Meritas, Bommensatt is reported as saying, wants to renovate to provide a campus equal to the school’s academic reputation.

A sister school to CDL, Léman International School, opened in September 2009 in Chengdu, China, offering primary education, but with plans for rapid growth that include opening a secondary school in August 2011.

CDL is the second-largest private international school in the Lake Geneva area, with 2,200 students, after the International School of Geneva (ISG), which has some 4,000 students on four campuses in Geneva and Vaud.

The International School of Lausanne (ISL) has 600 students. All three offer primary to pre-university education. The ISL and ISG are non-profit schools run by Swiss foundations. CDL is the largest privately-owned international school.