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Mon Jan 6, 2014, 11:43 AM

Clinton Pitches KKR-Backed College Chain Amid Controversy

By Mina Kimes and Michael Smith

Inside a building on a narrow Rio de Janeiro street, nine telemarketers sit in small cubicles, talking frenetically into headsets as scripts scroll across their computer screens.

On an October morning, these salespeople are urging high school seniors to attend Centro Universitario IBMR, a for-profit university. Their supervisor, Rafael Morine, paces the room, straining to be heard above the clatter of an air conditioner.

“Remember, today we are offering 30 percent discounts,” he tells a young woman.

Before the day ends, he says, his team will make almost 1,300 calls. The call center sits on the top floor of the nine-story building, above classrooms. Some telemarketers are students at IBMR, working during the day and taking classes at night, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its February issue.

“They know their school well,” says Morine, 28. “And that helps us sell.” Fliers taped to the walls promise bonuses to salespeople who convince at least 250 students to take the entrance exam for IBMR. One poster advertises the university’s owner, which is located almost 5,000 miles away in Baltimore: “Be part of Laureate Network, the biggest university network in the world.”



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