Company Quick10K Filing
TAL Education Group
20-F 2020-02-29 Filed 2020-06-30
20-F 2019-02-28 Filed 2019-05-16
20-F 2018-02-28 Filed 2018-06-26
20-F 2017-02-28 Filed 2017-06-28
20-F 2016-02-29 Filed 2016-05-31
20-F 2015-02-28 Filed 2015-05-28
20-F 2014-02-28 Filed 2014-05-12
20-F 2013-02-28 Filed 2013-06-28
20-F 2012-02-29 Filed 2012-06-27
20-F 2011-02-28 Filed 2011-07-25

TAL 20F Annual Report

Part I
Item 1. Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers
Item 2. Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable
Item 3. Key Information
Item 4. Information on The Company
Item 4A. Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects
Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees
Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions
Item 8. Financial Information
Item 9. The Offer and Listing
Item 10. Additional Information
Item 11. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk
Item 12. Description of Securities Other Than Equity Securities
Part II
Item 13. Defaults, Dividend Arrearages and Delinquencies
Item 14. Material Modifications To The Rights of Security Holders and Use of Proceeds
Item 15. Controls and Procedures
Item 16. Reserved
Item 16A. Audit Committee Financial Expert
Item 16B. Code of Ethics
Item 16C. Principal Accountant Fees and Services
Item 16D. Exemptions From The Listing Standards for Audit Committees
Item 16E. Purchases of Equity Securities By The Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers
Item 16F. Change in Registrant's Certifying Accountant
Item 16G. Corporate Governance
Item 16H. Mine Safety Disclosure
Part III
Item 17. Financial Statements
Item 18. Financial Statements
Item 19. Exhibits
EX-4.16 a14-12283_1ex4d16.htm
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TAL Education Group Earnings 2014-02-28

Balance SheetIncome StatementCash Flow

20-F 1 a14-12283_120f.htm 20-F

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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549

 


 

FORM 20-F

 


 

(Mark One)

 

o

REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR (g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

 

OR

 

 

x

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended February 28, 2014.

 

 

OR

 

 

o

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

 

 

For the transition period from                       to                        .

 

 

OR

 

 

o

SHELL COMPANY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

Date of event requiring this shell company report……………………………

 

Commission file number: 001-34900

 


 

TAL Education Group

(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)

 


 

N/A

(Translation of Registrant’s name into English)

 

Cayman Islands

(Jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)

 

12/F, Danling SOHO

No. 6 Danling Street, Haidian District

Beijing 100080

People’s Republic of China

(Address of principal executive offices)

 

Joseph Kauffman, Chief Financial Officer

Telephone: +86-10-5292-6658

Email: ir@xueersi.com

12/F, Danling SOHO

No. 6 Danling Street, Haidian District

Beijing 100080

People’s Republic of China

(Name, Telephone, E-mail and/or Facsimile number and Address of Company Contact Person)

 


 

Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act.

 

Title of each class

 

Name of each exchange on which registered

American Depositary Shares, each representing two Class A common shares

 

The New York Stock Exchange

Class A common shares, par value US$0.001 per share*

 

 

 


*      Not for trading, but only in connection with the listing on The New York Stock Exchange of American depositary shares (“ADSs”). Currently, each ADS represents two Class A common shares.

 


 

Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act.

 

None

(Title of Class)

 



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Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act.

 

None

(Title of Class)

 

Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the issuer’s classes of capital or common stock as of the close of the period covered by the annual report.

 

 

 

As of February 28, 2014, 78,204,146 Class A common shares, par value US$0.001 per share and 79,531,000 Class B common shares, par value US$0.001 per share were outstanding.

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.

o Yes   x No

 

If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

o Yes   x No

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.

x Yes   o No

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files).

x Yes   o No

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, or a non-accelerated filer. See definition of “accelerated filer and large accelerated filer” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):

 

Large accelerated filer o

 

Accelerated filer x

 

Non-accelerated filer o

 

Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:

 

U.S. GAAP x

 

International Financial Reporting Standards as issued
by the International Accounting Standards Board
o

 

Other o

 

If “Other” has been checked in response to the previous question, indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow.

o Item 17   o Item 18

 

If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).

o Yes   x No

 

(APPLICABLE ONLY TO ISSUERS INVOLVED IN BANKRUPTCY PROCEEDINGS DURING THE PAST FIVE YEARS)

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed all documents and reports required to be filed by Sections 12, 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 subsequent to the distribution of securities under a plan confirmed by a court.

 

o Yes   o No

 



Table of Contents

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

INTRODUCTION

1

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

1

PART I

 

3

Item 1.

Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers

3

Item 2.

Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable

3

Item 3.

Key Information

3

Item 4.

Information on the Company

37

Item 4A.

Unresolved Staff Comments

62

Item 5.

Operating and Financial Review and Prospects

62

Item 6.

Directors, Senior Management and Employees

86

Item 7.

Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions

94

Item 8.

Financial Information

95

Item 9.

The Offer and Listing

96

Item 10.

Additional Information

97

Item 11.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

106

Item 12.

Description of Securities Other than Equity Securities

107

PART II

 

109

Item 13.

Defaults, Dividend Arrearages and Delinquencies

109

Item 14.

Material Modifications to the Rights of Security Holders and Use of Proceeds

109

Item 15.

Controls and Procedures

109

Item 16.

Reserved

112

Item 16A.

Audit Committee Financial Expert

112

Item 16B.

Code of Ethics

112

Item 16C.

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

112

Item 16D.

Exemptions from the Listing Standards for Audit Committees

112

Item 16E.

Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers

112

Item 16F.

Change in Registrant’s Certifying Accountant

113

Item 16G.

Corporate Governance

113

Item 16H.

Mine Safety Disclosure

113

PART III

 

114

Item 17.

Financial Statements

114

Item 18.

Financial Statements

114

Item 19.

Exhibits

114

 

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INTRODUCTION

 

In this annual report, except where the context otherwise requires and for purposes of this annual report only:

 

·                  “China” or “PRC” refers to the People’s Republic of China, excluding Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau;

 

·                  “we,” “us,” “our company” and “our” refer to TAL Education Group, a Cayman Islands company, and its subsidiaries and Consolidated Affiliated Entities (as defined below);

 

·                  “shares” or “common shares” refers to our Class A and Class B common shares, par value $0.001 per share, and “preferred shares” or “Series A preferred shares” refers to our Series A convertible redeemable preferred shares, par value $0.001 per share, which were automatically converted into Class A common shares upon the completion of our company’s initial public offering in October 2010;

 

·                  “ADSs” refers to our American depositary shares, each of which represents two Class A common shares;

 

·                  “Variable Interest Entities,” or “VIEs,” refers to Beijing Xueersi Network Technology Co., Ltd., or Xueersi Network, and Beijing Xueersi Education Technology Co., Ltd., or Xueersi Education, and Beijing Dongfangrenli Science & Commerce Co., Ltd., or Beijing Dongfangrenli, all of which are domestic PRC companies in which we do not have equity interests but whose financial results have been consolidated into our consolidated financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP due to our having effective control over, and our being the primary beneficiary of, these companies; and “Consolidated Affiliated Entities” refers to our VIEs and the VIEs’ direct and indirect subsidiaries and schools;

 

·                  “U.S. GAAP” refers to generally accepted accounting principles in the United States;

 

·                  “student enrollments” refer to the cumulative total number of courses enrolled in and paid for by our students, including multiple courses enrolled in and paid for by the same student;

 

·                  “student retention rate” refers to the percentage of our students who subsequently enroll in one or more of our courses after enrolling in at least one course in the previous study term;

 

·                  “K-12” refers to the year before the first grade through the last year of high school;

 

·                  “RMB” or “Renminbi” refers to the legal currency of China; and

 

·                  “$,” “dollars” or “U.S. dollars” refer to the legal currency of the United States.

 

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

 

This annual report contains forward-looking statements that reflect our current expectations and views of future events. These forward looking statements are made under the “safe-harbor” provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements.

 

You can identify some of these forward-looking statements by words or phrases such as “may,” “will,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “aim,” “estimate,” “intend,” “plan,” “believe,” “is/are likely to” or other similar expressions. These forward-looking statements include statements relating to:

 

1



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·                  our anticipated growth strategies;

 

·                  competition in the K-12 after-school tutoring market;

 

·                  our future business development, results of operations and financial condition;

 

·                  expected changes in our revenues and certain cost and expense items;

 

·                  our ability to increase student enrollments and course fees and expand course offerings;

 

·                  risks associated with the expansion of our geographic reach;

 

·                  the expected increase in spending on private education in China; and

 

·                  PRC laws, regulations and policies relating to private education and providers of after-school tutoring services.

 

We have based these forward-looking statements largely on our current expectations and projections about future events and financial trends that we believe may affect our financial condition, results of operations, business strategy and financial needs. Although we believe that our expectations expressed in these forward-looking statements are reasonable, our expectations may later be found to be incorrect. You should read this annual report and the documents that we refer to in this annual report completely and with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from and worse than what we expect. We qualify all of our forward-looking statements with these cautionary statements.

 

The forward-looking statements made in this annual report relate only to events or information as of the date on which the statements are made in this annual report. Except as required by law, we undertake no obligation to update or revise publicly any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, after the date on which the statements are made or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.

 

2



Table of Contents

 

PART I

 

Item 1.                                 Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers

 

Not applicable.

 

Item 2.                                 Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable

 

Not applicable.

 

Item 3.                                 Key Information

 

A. Selected Financial Data

 

Our Selected Consolidated Financial Data

 

The following selected consolidated statement of operations data for our company for the fiscal years ended February 29, 2012, February 28, 2013 and February 28, 2014 and the selected consolidated balance sheet data as of February 28, 2013 and February 28, 2014 are derived from our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this annual report. The selected consolidated statement of operations data for our company for the fiscal years ended February 28, 2010 and February 28, 2011 and the selected consolidated balance sheet data as of February 28, 2010, February 28, 2011 and February 29, 2012 are derived from our audited consolidated financial statements not included in this annual report.

 

The selected consolidated financial data should be read in conjunction with, and are qualified in their entirety by reference to, our consolidated financial statements and related notes and “Item 5—Operating and Financial Review and Prospects” included elsewhere in this annual report. Our consolidated financial statements are prepared and presented in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles in the United States of America, or U.S. GAAP.

 

Our historical results are not necessarily indicative of results to be expected in any future period.

 

 

 

For the Year Ended February 29/28,

 

 

 

2010

 

2011

 

2012

 

2013

 

2014

 

 

 

(in thousands of $, except for share, per share and per ADS data)

 

Consolidated Statements of Operations Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net revenues

 

$

69,289

 

$

110,588

 

$

177,520

 

$

225,931

 

$

313,895

 

Cost of revenues(1) 

 

(37,434

)

(56,143

)

(95,587

)

(115,749

)

(151,543

)

Gross profit

 

31,855

 

54,445

 

81,933

 

110,182

 

162,352

 

Operating expenses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Selling and marketing(1) 

 

(5,591

)

(9,935

)

(23,166

)

(27,674

)

(35,761

)

General and administrative(1) 

 

(10,854

)

(19,085

)

(37,815

)

(51,125

)

(70,300

)

Impairment losses on long-term prepayment

 

 

 

 

(594

)

 

Impairment losses on intangible assets and goodwill

 

 

 

(140

)

 

 

Total operating expenses

 

(16,445

)

(29,020

)

(61,121

)

(79,393

)

(106,061

)

Government subsidies

 

 

149

 

213

 

632

 

1,105

 

Income from operations

 

15,410

 

25,574

 

21,025

 

31,421

 

57,396

 

Interest income

 

324

 

1,346

 

3,500

 

5,344

 

9,438

 

Interest expense

 

(41

)

(58

)

 

 

 

Other (expenses) / income

 

(124

)

1

 

4,180

 

776

 

102

 

Impairment loss on long-term investment

 

 

 

(235

)

 

 

Gain on investment in Century Mingde

 

 

 

 

 

297

 

Gain from sales of available-for-sale securities

 

 

6

 

 

 

53

 

Gain on extinguishment of liabilities

 

 

134

 

 

 

 

Income before income tax provision

 

15,569

 

27,003

 

28,470

 

37,541

 

67,286

 

Provision for income tax

 

(1,365

)

(2,628

)

(4,156

)

(4,101

)

(6,680

)

Net income from continuing operations

 

14,204

 

24,375

 

24,314

 

33,440

 

60,606

 

Net income/(loss) from discontinued operations, net of taxes

 

41

 

(334

)

 

 

 

 

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For the Year Ended February 29/28,

 

 

 

2010

 

2011

 

2012

 

2013

 

2014

 

 

 

(in thousands of $, except for share, per share and per ADS data)

 

Net income

 

14,245

 

24,041

 

24,314

 

33,440

 

60,606

 

Net income attributable to common shareholders of TAL Education Group

 

14,245

 

24,041

 

24,314

 

33,440

 

60,606

 

Net income per common share

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic from continuing operations

 

$

0.11

 

$

0.18

 

$

0.16

 

$

0.21

 

$

0.39

 

Basic from discontinued operations

 

$

0.00

 

$

(0.00

)

 

 

 

Total—Basic

 

$

0.11

 

$

0.18

 

$

0.16

 

$

0.21

 

$

0.39

 

Diluted from continuing operations

 

$

0.11

 

$

0.18

 

$

0.16

 

$

0.21

 

$

0.38

 

Diluted from discontinued operations

 

$

0.00

 

$

(0.00

)

 

 

 

Total—Diluted

 

$

0.11

 

$

0.18

 

$

0.16

 

$

0.21

 

$

0.38

 

Net income per ADS(2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic from continuing operations

 

$

0.23

 

$

0.36

 

$

0.32

 

$

0.43

 

$

0.77

 

Basic from discontinued operations

 

$

0.00

 

$

(0.00

)

 

 

 

Total—Basic

 

$

0.23

 

$

0.36

 

$

0.32

 

$

0.43

 

$

0.77

 

Net income per ADS(2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diluted from continuing operations

 

$

0.23

 

$

0.35

 

$

0.31

 

$

0.43

 

$

0.76

 

Diluted from discontinued operations

 

$

0.00

 

$

(0.00

)

 

 

 

Total—Diluted

 

$

0.23

 

$

0.35

 

$

0.31

 

$

0.43

 

$

0.76

 

Cash Dividends per common share

 

 

$

0.24

(3)

 

$

0.25

(4)

 

Weighted average shares used in calculating net income per common share and dividends per common share

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic

 

120,000,000

 

131,911,539

 

154,000,219

 

155,607,458

 

156,726,994

 

Diluted

 

125,000,000

 

136,445,635

 

155,874,381

 

155,631,090

 

159,444,928

 

 


(1)         Includes share-based compensation expenses as follows:

 

 

 

For the Year Ended February 29/28,

 

 

 

2010

 

2011

 

2012

 

2013

 

2014

 

 

 

(in thousands of $, except for share, per share and per ADS data)

 

Cost of revenues

 

 

$

521

 

$

418

 

$

106

 

$

48

 

Selling and marketing

 

 

975

 

1,497

 

1,815

 

1,161

 

General and administrative

 

 

3,810

 

5,986

 

6,363

 

7,136

 

Total

 

 

5,306

 

7,901

 

8,284

 

8,345

 

 

(2)         Each ADS represents two Class A common shares.

 

(3)         In November 2010, we paid a $30 million cash dividend to our shareholders of record as of September 29, 2010. Our issued and outstanding share capital as of September 29, 2010 consisted of 120,000,000 Class B common shares and 5,000,000 Class A preferred shares. The 5,000,000 Class A preferred shares were converted into 5,000,000 Class B common shares upon the completion of our initial public offering.

 

(4)        In December 2012, we paid a $39 million cash dividend to our shareholders of record as of December 7, 2012. Ours issued and outstanding share capital as of December 7, 2012 consisted of 68,314,150 Class A common shares and 87,806,000 Class B common shares.

 

 

 

For the Year Ended February 29/28,

 

 

 

2010

 

2011

 

2012

 

2013

 

2014

 

 

 

(in thousands of $, except for share, per share and per ADS data)

 

Summary Consolidated Balance Sheet Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash and cash equivalents

 

$

50,752

 

$

173,166

 

$

188,580

 

$

185,081

 

$

269,931

 

Total assets

 

65,504

 

217,770

 

294,653

 

316,042

 

427,599

 

Deferred revenue

 

29,408

 

50,678

 

85,594

 

102,514

 

132,401

 

Total liabilities

 

38,578

 

62,719

 

104,536

 

124,597

 

167,603

 

Net assets

 

26,926

 

155,051

 

190,117

 

191,445

 

259,996

 

Series A convertible redeemable preferred shares

 

9,000

 

 

 

 

 

Total equity

 

17,926

 

155,051

 

190,117

 

191,445

 

259,996

 

 

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B. Capitalization and Indebtedness

 

Not applicable.

 

C. Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds

 

Not applicable.

 

D. Risk Factors

 

Risks Related to Our Business

 

If we are not able to continue to attract students to enroll in our courses, our business and prospects will be materially and adversely affected.

 

The success of our business depends primarily on the number of students enrolled in our courses. Therefore, our ability to continue to attract students to enroll in our courses is critical to the continued success and growth of our business. This in turn will depend on several factors, including our ability to continue to develop new programs and enhance or adapt existing programs to respond to changes in market trends, student demands and government policies, expand our geographic reach, manage our growth while maintaining consistent and high teaching quality, effectively market our programs to a broader base of prospective students, develop additional high-quality educational content and respond effectively to competitive pressures. If we are unable to continue to attract students to enroll in our courses, our revenues may decline, which may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

We may not be able to continue to recruit, train and retain qualified teachers, who are critical to the success of our business and effective delivery of our tutoring services to students.

 

Our teachers are critical to the quality of our services and our reputation. We seek to hire qualified and dedicated teachers who deliver effective and inspirational instruction. There is a limited pool of teachers with these attributes, and we must provide competitive compensation packages to attract and retain such qualified teachers. We must also provide continued training to our teachers to ensure that they stay abreast of changes in student demands, academic standards and other key trends necessary to teach effectively. Although we have not experienced major difficulties in recruiting, training or retaining qualified teachers in the past, we may not be able to recruit, train and retain a sufficient number of qualified teachers in the future to keep pace with our growth while maintaining consistent teaching quality in the different markets we serve. A shortage of qualified teachers or a decrease in the quality of our teachers’ services, whether actual or perceived, or a significant increase in compensation for us to retain qualified teachers, would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

We may not be able to improve the content of our existing courses or to develop new courses or services in a timely or cost-effective manner.

 

We constantly update and improve the content of our existing courses and develop new courses or services to meet changing market demands. Revisions to our existing courses and our newly developed courses or services may not be well received by existing or prospective students or their parents. If we cannot respond effectively to changes in market demands, our business may be adversely affected. Even if we are able to develop new courses or services that are well received, we may not be able to introduce them in a timely or cost-effective manner. If we do not respond adequately to changes in market demands, our ability to attract and retain students may be impaired and our financial results could suffer.

 

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Offering new courses or services or modifying existing courses may require us to make investments in content development, increase marketing efforts and re-allocate resources away from other uses. We may have limited experience with the content of new courses or services and may need to adjust our systems and strategies to incorporate new courses or services into our existing offerings. If we are unable to continuously improve the content of our existing courses, or offer new courses or services in a timely or cost-effective manner, our results of operations and financial condition could be adversely affected.

 

If we are not able to maintain and enhance our brand, our business and operating results may be harmed.

 

We believe that market awareness of our “Xueersi” brand has contributed significantly to the success of our business, and that maintaining and enhancing our brand is critical to maintaining our competitive advantage. If we are unable to successfully promote and market our brand and services, our ability to attract new students could be adversely impacted and, consequently, our financial performance could suffer. We mainly rely on word-of-mouth referrals to attract prospective students. We also use marketing tools such as the Internet, public lectures, outdoor advertising campaigns, and distribution of marketing materials to promote our brand and service offerings. In order to maintain and increase our brand recognition and promote our new service offerings, we have increased our marketing personnel and expenses over the last several years. We have also sought to strengthen recognition for our other brands, such as our “Haoweilai” brand, which is the umbrella brand for all our brands, our “Zhikang” brand, through which we offer personalized premium services, our “Mobby” brand, through which we offer young learners tutoring services for students aged three through eight, our “Lejiale” brand, through which we offer English subject tutoring services and our “Dongxuetang” brand, through which we offer our Chinese subject tutoring services. A number of factors could prevent us from successfully promoting our brand, including student dissatisfaction with our services and the failure of our marketing tools and strategies to attract prospective students. If we are unable to maintain and enhance our “Xueersi” brand, successfully develop additional brands, or utilize marketing tools in a cost-effective manner, our revenues and profitability may suffer.

 

Moreover, we offer a variety of courses to primary, middle and high school students in some of the largest cities in China. As we continue to grow in size, expand our course offerings and extend our geographic reach, it may be more difficult to maintain quality and consistent standards of our services and to protect and promote our brand name.

 

Furthermore, we cannot assure you that our sales and marketing efforts will be successful in further promoting our brand in a cost-effective manner. If we are unable to further enhance our brand recognition and increase awareness of our services, or if we incur excessive sales and marketing expenses, our business and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.

 

Our historical financial and operating results, growth rates and profitability may not be indicative of future performance.

 

Although we commenced operations in 2003, we have experienced our significant growth in terms of employees, operations and revenues in recent years. Our net revenues increased from $177.5 million in the fiscal year ended February 29, 2012 to $225.9 million in the fiscal year ended February 28, 2013, and further to $313.9 million in the fiscal year ended February 28, 2014. Any evaluation of our business and our prospects must be considered in light of the risks and uncertainties encountered by companies at our stage of development. In addition, the after-school tutoring service market in China is still at an early stage of development, which makes it difficult to evaluate our business and future prospects. Furthermore, our results of operations may vary from period to period in response to a variety of other factors beyond our control, including general economic conditions and regulations or government actions pertaining to the private education service sector in China, changes in spending on private education, our ability to accurately predict cost of revenues and operating expenses, and non-recurring charges incurred in connection with acquisitions or minority stake investments or other extraordinary transactions or under unexpected circumstances. Due to the above factors, our historical financial and operating results, growth rates and profitability may not be indicative of our future performance and you should not rely on our past results or our historic growth rates as indications of our future performance.

 

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If our students’ level of performance deteriorates or satisfaction with our services declines, they may decide to withdraw from our courses and request refunds and our business, financial condition, results of operations and reputation would be adversely affected.

 

The success of our business depends on our ability to deliver a satisfactory learning experience and improved academic results. Our tutoring services may fail to improve a student’s academic performance and a student may perform below expectations even after completing our courses. Additionally, student and parent satisfaction with our services may decline. A student’s learning experience may also suffer if his or her relationship with our teachers does not meet expectations. We generally offer refunds for remaining classes to students who withdraw from a course. If a significant number of students fail to improve their academic performance after attending our courses or if their learning experiences with us are unsatisfactory, they may decide to withdraw from our courses and request refunds, and our business, financial condition, results of operations and reputation would be adversely affected.

 

We face significant competition, and if we fail to compete effectively, we may lose our market share and our profitability may be adversely affected.

 

The private education market in China is rapidly evolving, highly fragmented and competitive, and we expect competition to persist and intensify. We face competition in each type of services we offer and in each geographic market in which we operate. Our competitors at the national level include New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. and Xueda Education Group.

 

Our student enrollments may decrease due to intense competition. Some of our competitors may have more resources than we do. These competitors may be able to devote greater resources than we can to the development, promotion and sale of their programs, services and products and respond more quickly than we can to changes in student needs, testing materials, admission standards, market trends or new technologies. In addition, some smaller local companies may be able to respond more quickly to changes in student preferences in some of our targeted markets. Moreover, the increasing use of the Internet and advances in Internet- and computer-related technologies, such as web video conferencing and online testing simulators, are eliminating geographic and physical facility-related entry barriers to providing private education services. As a result, smaller local companies or Internet-content providers may be able to use the Internet to offer their programs, services and products quickly and cost-effectively to a large number of students with less capital expenditure than previously required. Consequently, we may be required to reduce course fees or increase spending in response to competition in order to retain or attract students or pursue new market opportunities, which could result in a decrease in our revenues and profitability. We will also face increased competition as we expand our operations. We cannot assure you that we will be able to compete successfully against current or future competitors. If we are unable to maintain our competitive position or otherwise effectively respond to competition, we may lose our market share and our profitability may be adversely affected.

 

Failure to effectively and efficiently manage the expansion of our service network may materially and adversely affect our ability to capitalize on new business opportunities.

 

Our business has experienced growth in recent years. The number of our learning centers increased from 270 as of February 29, 2012 to 274 as of February 28, 2014. We plan to continue to expand our operations in different geographic markets in China. Establishing new learning centers poses challenges and requires us to make investments in management, capital expenditures, marketing expenses and other resources. The expansion has resulted, and will continue to result, in substantial demands on our management and staff as well as our financial, operational, technological and other resources. In addition, our new learning centers typically incur pre-opening costs and may incur losses during the initial ramp-up stage since we incur rent, salary and other operating expenses for new learning centers regardless of any revenues we may generate. If the ramp-up of our new learning centers is slower than expected, whether due to our inability to attract sufficient student enrollments or charge hourly rates for our courses that are high enough for us to recover our costs, our overall financial performance may be materially and adversely affected. Our planned expansion will also place significant pressure on us to maintain teaching quality and consistent standards, controls and policies to ensure that our brand does not suffer as a result of any decrease, whether actual or perceived, in the quality of our programs. To manage and support our expansion, we must improve our existing operational, administrative and technological systems and our financial and management controls, and recruit, train and retain additional qualified teachers and management personnel as well as other administrative and marketing personnel. We cannot assure you that we will be able to effectively and efficiently manage the growth of our operations, maintain or accelerate our current growth rate, maintain or increase our gross and operating profit margins, recruit and retain qualified teachers and management personnel, successfully integrate new learning centers into our operations and otherwise effectively manage our growth. If we are not successful in effectively and efficiently managing our expansion, we may not be able to capitalize on new business opportunities, which may have a material and adverse impact on our financial condition and results of operations.

 

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If we fail to successfully execute our growth strategies, our business and prospects may be materially and adversely affected.

 

Our growth strategies include further penetrating our existing markets, extending our geographic reach into new regions, further developing our online course offerings and online education platform, and expanding our Mobby tutoring services. We may not succeed in executing our growth strategies due to a number of factors, including, without limitation, the following:

 

·                  we may fail to identify, and effectively market our services in, new markets with sufficient growth potential into which to expand our network or promote new courses in existing markets;

 

·                  it may be difficult to increase the number of learning centers in more developed cities;

 

·                  we may not be able to continue to replicate our successful growth model in Beijing and Shanghai to other geographic markets, and may experience decline in our Beijing and/or Shanghai businesses that would offset the growth we are experiencing in other geographic markets;

 

·                  our analysis for selecting suitable new locations may not be accurate and the demand for our services at such new locations may not materialize or increase as rapidly as we expect;

 

·                  we may fail to obtain the requisite licenses and permits necessary to open learning centers at our desired locations from local authorities or face risks in opening without the requisite licenses and permits;

 

·                  we may not be able to manage our personalized premium services business efficiently and cost-effectively;

 

·                  we may not be able to continue to enhance our online offerings or expand them to new markets, generate profits from online offerings, or adapt online offerings to changing student needs and technological advances such that we will continue to face significant student acquisition costs in the markets we enter; and

 

·                  we may fail to be profitable in our new tutoring business and may encounter obstacles in expanding our Mobby tutoring business to other markets.

 

If we fail to successfully execute our growth strategies, we may not be able to maintain our growth rate and our business and prospects may be materially and adversely affected as a result.

 

At present, we derive a majority of our revenues from Beijing and Shanghai. Any event negatively affecting the private education market in Beijing or Shanghai, or any increase in the level of competition for the types of services we offer in these two cities, could have a material adverse effect on our overall business and results of operations.

 

Our services in Beijing and Shanghai currently contribute most of our revenues. We derived approximately 88.5%, 77.4% and 65.9% of our total net revenues for the fiscal years ended February 29, 2012, February 28, 2013 and February 28, 2014, respectively, from these two cities. Although revenues from our services provided in other cities have grown in recent years, we expect that our services in Beijing and Shanghai will continue to be the main source of our revenues for the foreseeable future. If either city experiences an event negatively affecting its private education market, such as a serious economic downturn, natural disaster or outbreak of contagious disease, adopts regulations relating to private education that place additional restrictions or burdens on us, or experiences an increase in the level of competition for the types of services we offer, our overall business and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.

 

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If we fail to manage our personalized premium services business efficiently and cost-effectively, our business and prospects could be harmed.

 

The expansion of our personalized premium services business has entailed and may continue to entail significant investment of human capital, financial resources and management time and attention as such one-on-one tutoring services impose a different set of requirements on our teachers and many other aspects of our operations than small classes, which currently constitute the main format of our service offerings. If we fail to manage our personalized premium services business efficiently and cost-effectively, it could have an adverse effect on our business and prospects.

 

Failure to adequately and promptly respond to changes in PRC laws and regulations on school curriculum, examination systems and admission standards in China could render our courses and services less attractive to students.

 

Under China’s education system, school admissions rely heavily on examination results. College and high school entrance examinations in most cases are mandatory for high schools and middle school graduates to gain admission to colleges and high schools, respectively, and therefore, a student’s performance in these examinations is critical to his or her education and future employment prospects. Although examinations are not required for entering middle schools, many key middle schools administer their own assessment processes to disqualify prospective students. It is therefore common for students to take after-school tutoring classes to improve performance, and the success of our business to a large extent depends on the continued use of assessment process by high schools and colleges in their admissions. However, such heavy emphasis on examination scores may decline or fall out of favor with educational institutions or education authorities in China.

 

There are continuous changes in the focus of the subjects and questions tested in high school and college entrance exams in China, the format of the tests, the manner in which the tests are administered and college admission standards in China. These changes require us to continually update and enhance our curriculum, course materials and teaching methods. Any inability to track and respond to these changes in a timely and cost-effective manner would make our services and products less attractive to students, which may materially and adversely affect our reputation and ability to continue to attract students. For example, the Ministry of Education, or MOE, promulgated new curriculum standards for primary and secondary schools in China covering 19 subjects, including mathematics, Chinese and English, in December 2011. These new curriculum standards began taking effect in the fall semester of 2012. We have completed the process of adapting our tutoring programs and materials to these new curriculum requirements. However, any failure to respond in a timely and cost-effective manner to such changes will adversely impact the marketability of our services and products.

 

Regulations and policies which de-emphasize scholastic competition achievements in college and high school admissions have had, and may continue to have, an impact on our enrollments. Our business in Beijing has been affected by the change in policy on the use of mathematical Olympiad competition results for admission to key middle schools. Following the MOE’s amendment of its “extra credit policy” in November 2010 to limit the number of extra scores Olympiad competition winners may receive for their college entrance examination and in compliance with the Implementation Opinions on Standardizing Educational Changes and Adjusting Arbitrary Educational Changes in 2013, which relate to the admissions processes of high schools, certain local educational authorities promulgated policies limiting the role of Olympiad competitions in the admission process of high schools and middle schools. In February 2013, the Beijing Municipal Education Commission issued a Notice on Mitigating Schoolwork-Related Stress on Students in Primary and Secondary Schools, which, among other things, prohibit public schools from cooperating with or authorizing private training organizations to offer after-school tutoring services for the purpose of enrolling students in such public schools. This policy has generally resulted in a decrease in the demand for mathematical Olympiad competition courses, which in turn has also affected the enrollments in our mathematics classes as well as our personalized premium services business. In addition, the MOE issued the Implementation Opinions on Further Improving the Exam-exemption and Nearest Schooling Enrollment Work in Secondary Schools on January 14, 2014 to clarify that local educational administrative departments at all levels, public schools and private schools are not allowed to use examinations to select their students. Public schools may not use various competitions or examinations as the selection method for enrollment. The general office of the MOE issued the Notice on Further Improving the Compulsory School Exam-exemption and Nearest Schooling Enrollment Work in Main Cities to the provincial and municipal educational administrative departments in Beijing, Tianjin, Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, Shandong, Hubei, Guangdong, Chongqing, Sichuan, Shanxi, Dalian, Qingdao, Ningbo, Xiamen and Shenzhen on January 28, 2014 to further request that all the primary schools and secondary schools in main cities implement this notice gradually from now to 2017 and put an end to the entrance examinations and the link between entrance examinations and enrollment. These policies were published recently and have not resulted in a decrease in the demand for any of our services so far. However, we cannot ensure that they will not adversely affect the performance of our after-school tutoring business and personalized premium services that target students in primary schools.

 

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Also, education authorities in Yunnan Province stopped administering provincial-level high school entrance examinations in 2010. High school admissions in Yunnan Province have since then been based on a combination of middle school examination results that have replaced raw scores with letter grades and comprehensive evaluations of students’ aptitude and performance by their middle schools. Yunnan Province also began to prohibit subject competitions in primary and secondary schools in November 2009. Although we do not offer after-school tutoring services in Yunnan Province, nor do we expect to do so in the near future, it is possible that the local governments in the areas where we have operations may adopt similar measures. Furthermore, approximately 90 universities in China have been allowed to recruit generally no more than 5% of their students through independently administered examinations and admission procedures in recent years. In some provinces, such as Hubei, this proportion was reported to be increased to 8% in 2012. Candidates for admission to those universities are still required to take college entrance examinations and meet certain threshold requirements, but their college entrance exam scores are no longer the sole determining factor in the admission processes of those universities. If we fail to adjust our services to respond to any such material changes, our business may be materially and adversely affected. In addition, admission and assessment processes in China constantly undergo changes and development in terms of subject and skill focus, question type, examination format and the manner in which processes are used. We are therefore required to continually update and improve our curriculum, course materials and our teaching methods. A failure to track and respond to any such changes in a timely and cost-effective manner could make our courses and services less attractive to students, which may materially and adversely affect our reputation and ability to continue to attract students and in turn have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

Accidents or injuries suffered by our students or other people on our premises may adversely affect our reputation, subject us to liability and cause us to incur substantial costs.

 

Although we carry certain liability insurance for our students and their parents, in the event of accidents or injuries or other harm to students or other people on our premises, including those caused by or otherwise arising from the actions of our employees or contractors on our premises, our facilities may be perceived to be unsafe, which may discourage prospective students from attending our classes. We could also face claims alleging that we were negligent, provided inadequate supervision to our employees or contractors and therefore should be held jointly liable for harm caused by them or are otherwise liable for injuries suffered by our students or other people on our premises. For instance, in 2012, three students were injured while attending a physics laboratory class in Beijing. We have paid for the medical and related expenses and/or negotiated settlements with the families of these three students, and while we have liability insurance policies, such policies only covered a small portion of the compensation. Although we have since enhanced preventive measures to avoid similar incidents, we cannot assure you that there will be no similar incidents in the future. A material liability claim against us or any of our teachers or independent contractors could adversely affect our reputation, enrollment and revenues. Even if unsuccessful, such a claim could create unfavorable publicity, cause us to incur substantial expenses and divert the time and attention of our management.

 

Our new courses and services may compete with our existing offerings.

 

We are constantly developing new courses and services to meet changes in student demands, school curriculum, testing materials, admission standards, market trends and technologies. While some of the courses and services that we develop will expand our current offerings and increase student enrollment, others may compete with or render obsolete our existing offerings without increasing our total student enrollment. For example, our online courses might attract students away from our classroom-based courses. If we are unable to increase our total student enrollment and profitability as we expand our course and service offerings, our business and growth may be adversely affected.

 

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If we are not able to continually enhance our online courses and services and adapt to rapid changes in technological demands and student needs, we may lose market share and our business could be adversely affected.

 

Widespread use of the Internet for educational purposes is a relatively recent occurrence, and the market for Internet-based courses and services is characterized by rapid technological changes and innovations, as well as unpredictable product life cycles and user preferences. We have limited experience with online courses and services. We must be able to adapt quickly to changing student needs and preferences, technological advances and evolving Internet practices in order to compete successfully in online education. Ongoing enhancement of our online offerings and technologies may entail significant expenses and technological risks, and we may not be able to use new technologies effectively and may fail to adapt to changes in the online education market on a timely and cost-effective basis. We began offering online courses through our www.xueersi.com in 2010 and revenues generated from our online course offerings through www.xueersi.com accounted for 3.2%, 3.1% and 3.0% of our total net revenues in the fiscal years ended February 29, 2012, February 28, 2013 and February 28, 2014, respectively. We expect that revenues from our online course offerings will increase. However, if improvements to our online offerings and technologies are delayed, result in systems interruptions or are not aligned with market expectations or preferences, we may lose market share and our growth prospects could be adversely affected.

 

Our success depends on the continuing efforts of our senior management team and other key personnel and our business may be harmed if we lose their services.

 

Our future success depends heavily upon the continuing services of the members of our senior management team, which includes Bangxin Zhang, our chairman and chief executive officer, Yachao Liu, our senior vice president, Yunfeng Bai, our senior vice president and Joseph Kauffman, our chief financial officer. If any member of our senior management team leaves us and we fail to effectively manage a transition to new personnel in the future or if we fail to attract and retain qualified and experienced professionals on acceptable terms, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected. Competition for experienced management personnel in the education industry is intense, and we may not be able to retain the services of our senior executives or key personnel, or to attract and retain high quality senior executives or key personnel in the future.

 

Our success also depends on our having highly trained financial, technical, human resource, sales and marketing staff, management personnel and qualified teachers for local markets. We will need to continue to hire additional personnel as our business grows. A shortage in the supply of personnel with requisite skills or our failure to recruit them could impede our ability to increase revenues from our existing courses and services, to launch new course and service offerings and to expand our operations, and would have an adverse effect on our business and financial results.

 

Failure to control rental costs, obtain leases at desired locations at reasonable prices or protect our leasehold interests could materially and adversely affect our business.

 

Our office space and service and learning centers are presently mainly located on leased premises. We purchased 7,582 square meters of building space in Beijing in July 2011, which we renovated as offices in the fiscal year ended February 28, 2013. With respect to our leased premises, at the end of each lease term, which generally ranges from one to six years, we must negotiate an extension of the lease and if we are not able to negotiate an extension on terms acceptable to us, we will be forced to move to a different location, or the rent may increase significantly. This could disrupt our operations and adversely affect our profitability. All of our leases are subject to renewal at market prices, which could result in a substantial rent increase at each time of renewal. We compete with many other businesses for sites in certain prime locations and some landlords may have entered into long-term leases with our competitors for these locations. As a result, we may not be able to obtain new leases at desirable locations or renew our existing leases on acceptable terms or at all, which could adversely affect our business. In addition, a few of our lessors have not been able to provide us with copies of title certificates or other evidencing documents to prove that they have authorization to lease the properties to us. We also have not registered most of our lease agreements with the relevant PRC governmental authorities as required by relevant PRC law. As of the date of this annual report, we are not aware of any actions, claims or investigations threatened against us or our lessors with respect to the defects in our leasehold interests. We were aware of the defects when we entered into those leases. In many cases, we entered into leases upon promises from the lessors that relevant certificates and authorizations would be delivered at a later time, which did not eventually materialize. Our business and legal teams followed an internal guideline to identify and assess risks in connection with leasing the properties, and a final business decision was made after our analysis of the likely impact of the defects on the leasehold interests and the value of the properties to our expansion plan. However, there is no assurance that our decision would always lead to the favorable outcome we expected to achieve. If any of our leases are terminated as a result of challenges by third parties or government authorities for lack of title certificates or proof of authorization to lease, we do not expect to be subject to any fines or penalties but we may be forced to relocate the affected learning centers and incur additional expenses relating to such relocation. If we fail to find suitable replacement sites in a timely manner or on terms acceptable to us, our business and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.

 

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Capacity constraints of our teaching facilities could cause us to lose students to our competitors.

 

The teaching facilities of our physical network are limited in size and number of classrooms. We may not be able to admit all students who would like to enroll in our courses due to the capacity constraints of our teaching facilities. This would deprive us of the opportunity to serve them and to potentially develop a long-term relationship with them for continued services. If we fail to expand our physical capacity as quickly as the demand for our classroom-based services grows, we could lose potential students to our competitors, and our results of operations and business prospects could suffer.

 

If we fail to protect our intellectual property rights, our brand and business may suffer.

 

We consider our copyrights, trademarks, trade names, Internet domain names and other intellectual property rights invaluable to our ability to continue to develop and enhance our brand recognition. Unauthorized use of our copyrights, trademarks, trade names and domain names may damage our reputation and brands. Our “Xueersi” brand and logo is a registered trademark in China. Our proprietary curricula and course materials are protected by copyrights. However, preventing copyright, trademark, trade name, Internet domain name and other intellectual property rights infringement or misuse could be difficult, costly and time-consuming, particularly in China. The measures we take to protect our copyrights, trademarks and other intellectual property rights are currently based upon a combination of trademark and copyright laws in China and may not be adequate to prevent unauthorized uses. Furthermore, application of laws governing intellectual property rights in China is uncertain and evolving, and could involve substantial risks to us. There have been several incidents in the past where third parties used our brand “Xueersi” without our authorization, and on occasion we have needed to resort to litigation to protect our intellectual property rights. In addition, we are still in the process of applying for the registration in China of the trademarks for our “Haoweilai” brand. We cannot assure you that the relevant governmental authorities will grant us the approval to register such trademarks. As a result, we may be unable to prevent third parties from utilizing this brand name, which may have an adverse impact on our brand image. If we are unable to adequately protect our trademarks, copyrights and other intellectual property rights in the future, we may lose these rights, our brand name may be harmed, and our business may suffer materially. Furthermore, our management’s attention may be diverted by violations of our intellectual property rights, and we may be required to enter into costly litigation to protect our proprietary rights against any infringement or violation.

 

We may encounter disputes from time to time relating to our use of the intellectual property of third parties.

 

We cannot assure you that our courses and marketing materials, online courses, products, and platform or other intellectual property developed or used by us do not or will not infringe upon valid copyrights or other intellectual property rights held by third parties. We may encounter disputes from time to time over rights and obligations concerning intellectual property, and we may not prevail in those disputes. We have adopted policies and procedures to prohibit our employees and contractors from infringing upon third-party copyright or intellectual property rights. However, we cannot assure that our teachers or other personnel will not, against our policies, use third-party copyrighted materials or intellectual property without proper authorization in our classes, on our websites, at any of our locations or via any medium through which we provide our programs. Our users may also post unauthorized third-party content on our websites. We may incur liability for unauthorized duplication or distribution of materials posted on our websites or used in our classes. We have been involved in claims against us alleging our infringement of third-party intellectual property rights and we may be subject to such claims in the future. Any such intellectual property infringement claim could result in costly litigation and divert our management attention and resources.

 

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If we fail to negotiate or integrate successfully any future acquisitions or if the value of our investment declines, our business and operating results could be adversely affected.

 

We may acquire or make minority stake investments in additional businesses in the future. We may not have any control over the businesses or operations of our minority stake investments. If we are unable to successfully integrate the acquired businesses, or if the value of the investment declines over time, it could harm our business and operating results. In addition, if the businesses we acquire or invest in do not subsequently generate the anticipated financial performance or if another goodwill impairment test triggering event occurs, we may need to revalue or write down the value of goodwill and other intangible assets in connection with such acquisitions, which would harm our results of operations. For example, in July 2008 we acquired schools in Wuhan, Jianli and Qianjiang, Hubei Province, for $1.6 million, $0.2 million and $0.2 million, respectively. However, subsequent financial performances at these schools were not in line with our expectations at the time of purchase and as a result, we recognized an aggregate impairment loss on goodwill of $1.2 million on these acquisitions for the fiscal year ended February 28, 2009. We discontinued our operation of the two schools in Jianli and Qianjiang during the fiscal year ended February 28, 2011. In the fiscal year ended February 29, 2012, we recognized a goodwill impairment loss of $0.1 million relating to a purchase of a business in Tianjin in March 2008. In January 2014, we made a minority equity investment in BabyTree Inc. for total cash consideration of $23.5 million, which along with other investments may need to be revalued or written down in the future.

 

In addition, we may find it necessary or desirable to invest in or acquire other businesses to remain competitive or to expand our business, but may be unable to identify appropriate acquisition or strategic investment targets. If we identify an appropriate acquisition or investment target, we may not be able to negotiate the terms of the acquisition or investment successfully, finance the proposed transaction or integrate the relevant businesses into our existing business and operations. Furthermore, as we often do not have control over the companies in which we only have minority stake, we cannot ensure that these companies always will comply with applicable laws and regulations in their business operations. Material non-compliance by our investees may cause substantial harms to our reputations and the value of our investment.

 

Seasonal and other fluctuations in our results of operations could adversely affect the trading price of our ADSs.

 

Our revenues and operating results may fluctuate as a result of seasonal variations in our business, principally due to changes in student enrollments. The fluctuations may result in volatility or have an adverse effect on the market price of our ADSs. In addition, comparisons of our operating results between different periods within a single financial year, or between the same periods in different financial years, may not be meaningful and should not be relied upon as good indicators of our performance.

 

We have limited liability insurance coverage and do not carry business disruption insurance.

 

We have limited liability insurance coverage for our students and their parents in all of our learning centers, except for our learning and service centers in Jinan. A successful liability claim against us due to injuries suffered by our students or other people on our premises could materially and adversely affect our financial conditions, results of operations and reputation. Even if unsuccessful, such a claim could cause adverse publicity to us, require substantial cost to defend and divert the time and attention of our management. For more information, see “Item 3.D.—Key Information—Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business—Accidents or injuries suffered by our students or other people on our premises may adversely affect our reputation, subject us to liability and cause us to incur substantial costs.” In addition, we do not have any business disruption insurance. Any business disruption event could result in substantial cost to us and diversion of our resources.

 

System disruptions to our websites or computer systems or a leak of student data could damage our reputation and limit our ability to retain students and increase student enrollment.

 

The performance and reliability of our websites and computer systems is critical to our reputation and ability to retain students and increase student enrollment. Any system error or failure, or a sudden and significant increase in online traffic, could disrupt or slow access to our websites. We cannot assure you that we will be able to expand our online infrastructure in a timely and cost-effective manner to meet the increasing demands of our students and their parents. In addition, our computer systems store and process important information including, without limitation, class schedules, registration information and student data and could be vulnerable to interruptions or malfunctions due to events beyond our control, such as natural disasters and technology failures. For instance, we have in the past experienced interruptions to our operations due to temporary computer system failures. Although we have a daily backup system that runs on different servers for our operating data, we may still lose important student data or suffer disruption to our operations if there is a failure of the database system or the backup system. In addition, computer hackers, foreign governments or cyber terrorists may attempt to penetrate our network security and our website. Unauthorized access to our proprietary business information or customer data may be obtained through break-ins, sabotage, breach of our secure network by an unauthorized party, computer viruses, computer denial-of-service attacks, employee theft or misuse, breach of the security of the networks of our third party providers, or other misconduct. Because the techniques used by computer programmers who may attempt to penetrate and sabotage our network security or our website change frequently and may not be recognized until launched against a target, we may be unable to anticipate these techniques. It is also possible that unauthorized access to customer data may be obtained through inadequate use of security controls by customers. We would suffer economic and reputational damages if a technical failure of our systems or a security breach compromises student data, including identification or contact information, although there has not been any compromise in the past. Any disruption to our computer systems could therefore have a material adverse effect on our on-site operations and ability to retain students and increase student enrollments.

 

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We face risks related to natural disasters, health epidemics and other outbreaks, which could significantly disrupt our operations.

 

Our business could be materially and adversely affected by natural disasters or widespread epidemics. On May 12, 2008 and April 20, 2013, severe earthquakes affected parts of Sichuan province in southeastern China, and on April 14, 2010, several earthquakes hit parts of Qinghai province in western China, resulting in significant numbers of casualties and property damages. In April 2009, a new strain of influenza A virus subtype H1N1, commonly known as “swine flu,” was first discovered in North America and quickly spread to other parts of the world, including China. In early June 2009, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak to be a pandemic. Starting from March 2013, H7N9 bird flu, a new strain of animal influenza, has been spreading in China and has infected more than a hundred people. While we did not suffer any material loss or experience any significant increase in costs as a result of the earthquakes, H1N1 swine influenza or H7N9 bird flu, if a similar disaster or epidemics, including severe acute respiratory syndrome, were to occur in the future and affect any of the cities in which we have major operations, our student attendance and our business could be materially and adversely affected.

 

Failure to maintain effective internal controls over financial reporting could cause us to inaccurately report our financial result or fail to prevent fraud and have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and the trading price of our ADSs.

 

We are subject to the reporting obligations under U.S. securities laws. Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and related rules require public companies to include a report of management on their internal control over financial reporting in their annual reports. This report must contain an assessment by management of the effectiveness of a public company’s internal control over financial reporting. In addition, an independent registered public accounting firm for a public company must attest to and report on management’s assessment of the effectiveness of the company’s internal control over financial reporting. Our efforts to implement standardized internal control procedures and develop the internal tests necessary to verify the proper application of the internal control procedures and their effectiveness are a key area of focus for our board of directors, our audit committee and senior management.

 

Our management has concluded that our internal control over financial reporting was effective as of February 28, 2014, and our independent registered public accounting firm has issued an attestation report which concludes that our internal control over financial reporting was effective in all material aspects as of February 28, 2014. However, if we fail to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting in the future, our management and our independent registered public accounting firm may not be able to conclude that we have effective internal control over financial reporting at a reasonable assurance level. Moreover, effective internal controls over financial reporting are necessary for us to produce reliable financial reports and are important to help prevent fraud. In addition, we need to continue to evaluate the consolidation of our VIEs and VIEs’ subsidiaries and schools given the change in the ownership or voting power of the Company by the nominee shareholders of the VIEs. As a result, although we have incurred and anticipate that we will continue to incur considerable costs, management time and other resources in an effort to continue to comply with Section 404 and other requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, any failure to maintain effective internal controls over financial reporting could in turn result in the loss of investor confidence in the reliability of our financial statements and negatively impact the trading price of our ADSs.

 

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Increases in labor costs in the PRC may adversely affect our business and our profitability.

 

The economy of China has been experiencing increases in inflation and labor costs in recent years. China’s consumer price index, the broadest measure of inflation, rose 2.0% from February 2013 to February 2014. The overall economy and the average wage in the PRC are expected to continue to grow. The average wage level for our employees has increased in recent years. In addition, we are required by PRC laws and regulations to pay various statutory employee benefits, including pensions, housing fund, medical insurance, work-related injury insurance, unemployment insurance and childbearing insurance to designated government agencies for the benefit of our employees. It is up to the relevant government agencies to determine whether an employer has made adequate payments of the requisite statutory employee benefits, and those employers who fail to make adequate payments may be subject to late payment fees, fines and/or other penalties. We expect that our labor costs, including wages and employee benefits, will continue to increase. Unless we are able to pass on these increased labor costs to our students by increasing prices for our services or improving the utilization of our teachers and our staff, our profitability and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.

 

We may be the subject of anti-competitive, harassing, or other detrimental conduct by third parties including anonymous allegations, negative blog postings, and the public dissemination of malicious assessments of our business that could cause us to incur significant time and costs to address these allegations, harm our reputation and adversely affect the price of our ADSs.

 

We may be the target of anti-competitive, harassing, or other detrimental conduct by third parties. Such conduct includes allegations, anonymous or otherwise, sent to our auditors and/or other third parties regarding our operations, accounting, revenues, business relationships, business prospects and business ethics. Additionally, allegations, directly or indirectly against us, may be posted in internet chat-rooms or on blogs or any websites by anyone, whether or not related to us, on an anonymous basis. We may be subject to government or regulatory investigation as a result of such third-party conduct and may be required to expend significant time and incur substantial costs to address such third-party conduct, and there is no assurance that we will be able to conclusively refute each of the allegations within a reasonable period of time, or at all. Our reputation may also be negatively affected as a result of the public dissemination of anonymous allegations or malicious statements about our business, which in turn may adversely affect the price of our ADSs.

 

We may be classified as a passive foreign investment company under U.S. tax law, which could result in adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences to U.S. Holders of our ADSs or common shares.

 

Depending upon the value of our assets based, in part, on the market value of our common shares and ADSs and the nature of our assets and income over time, we could be classified as a passive foreign investment company, or PFIC, for United States federal income tax purposes. Based on our current income and assets and projections as to the value of our ADSs, we do not expect to be classified as a PFIC for the taxable year ended February 28, 2014. While we do not anticipate becoming a PFIC, there is a risk that we may become a PFIC for our current taxable year ending on February 28, 2015 and future taxable years because of our significant cash balances and because the value of our assets for purposes of the PFIC test will generally be determined by reference to the market price of our ADSs. Accordingly, fluctuations in the market price of our ADSs may cause us to become a PFIC for the current or any subsequent taxable year.

 

We will be classified as a PFIC for any taxable year if either (i) at least 75% of our gross income for the taxable year is passive income or (ii) at least 50% of the value of our assets (determined on the basis of a quarterly average) is attributable to assets that produce or are held for the production of passive income. Although the law in this regard is unclear, we treat our VIEs and their respective subsidiaries as being owned by us for United States federal income tax purposes, not only because we control their management decisions but also because we are entitled to substantially all of the economic benefits associated with these entities, and, as a result, we consolidate their operating results in our consolidated U.S. GAAP financial statements. If it were determined, however, that we are not the owner of the VIEs and their respective subsidiaries for United States federal income tax purposes, we would likely be treated as a PFIC for our current and any subsequent taxable year. Because of the uncertainties in the application of the relevant rules and because PFIC status is a factual determination made annually after the close of each taxable year on the basis of the composition of our income and the value of our active versus passive assets, there can be no assurance that we will not be a PFIC for any taxable year.

 

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If we were to be or become classified as a PFIC, a U.S. Holder (as defined in “Item 10.E.—Additional Information—Taxation—Material United States Federal Income Tax Considerations—General”) may be subject to reporting requirements and may incur significantly increased United States income tax on gain recognized on the sale or other disposition of the ADSs or common shares and on the receipt of distributions on the ADSs or common shares to the extent such gain or distribution is treated as an “excess distribution” under the United States federal income tax rules. Further, if we were a PFIC for any year during which a U.S. Holder held our ADSs or common shares, we generally would continue to be treated as a PFIC for all succeeding years during which such U.S. Holder held our ADSs or common shares. You are urged to consult your tax advisor concerning the United States federal income tax consequences of acquiring, holding, and disposing of ADSs or common shares if we are or become classified as a PFIC. For more information see “Item 10.E.—Additional Information—Taxation—Material United States Federal Income Tax Considerations—PFIC Considerations” and “Item 10.E.—Additional Information—Taxation—Material United States Federal Income Tax Considerations—PFIC Rules.”

 

We have granted and will continue to grant restricted shares, share options and other share-based awards in the future, which may materially reduce our net income.

 

We adopted a share incentive plan in June 2010 that permits granting of options to purchase our Class A common shares, restricted shares, restricted share units, share appreciation rights, dividend equivalent rights and other instruments as deemed appropriate by the administrator under the plan. In August 2013, we amended and restated our 2010 Share Incentive Plan. Pursuant to the amended and restated 2010 Share Incentive Plan, the maximum aggregate number of Class A common shares that may be issued pursuant to all awards under our share incentive plan is equal to five percent (5%) of the total issued and outstanding shares as of the date of the amended and restated 2010 Share Incentive Plan. However, the shares reserved may be increased automatically if and whenever the unissued share reserve accounts for less than one percent (1%) of the total then issued and outstanding shares, so that after the increase, the shares unissued and reserved under this plan immediately after each such increase shall equal five percent (5%) of the then issued and outstanding shares. As of April 30, 2014, 13,178,112 non-vested restricted shares under our share incentive plan previously granted to our employees, directors and consultants are outstanding. As a result of these grants and potential future grants under the plan, we have incurred and will continue to incur share-based compensation expenses. We had share-based compensation expenses of $7.9 million, $8.3 million and $8.3 million for the fiscal years ended February 29, 2012, February 28, 2013 and February 28, 2014, respectively. As of February 28, 2014, the unrecognized compensation expenses related to the non-vested restricted shares amounted to $39.2 million, which will be recognized over a weighted-average period of 4.4 years. Expenses associated with share-based compensation awards granted under our share incentive plan may materially reduce our future net income. However, if we limit the size of grants under our share incentive plan to minimize share-based compensation expenses, we may not be able to attract or retain key personnel.

 

Risks Related to Our Corporate Structure

 

If the PRC government determines that the agreements that establish the structure for operating our business in China are not in compliance with applicable PRC laws and regulations, we could be subject to severe penalties.

 

PRC laws and regulations currently require any foreign entity that invests in the education business in China to be an educational institution with relevant experience in providing education services outside China. None of our offshore holding companies is an educational institution or provides education services. To comply with PRC laws and regulations, we have entered into a series of contractual arrangements among Beijing Century TAL Education Technology Co., Ltd., or TAL Beijing, on the one hand, and Xueersi Education, Xueersi Network, Beijing Dongfangrenli and their respective shareholders, subsidiaries and schools, on the other hand. We rely on the series of contractual arrangements among TAL Beijing, Xueersi Education, Xueersi Network, Beijing Dongfangrenli and their respective shareholders, subsidiaries and schools to conduct most of our services in China. We have been and are expected to continue to be dependent on our Consolidated Affiliated Entities in China to operate our education business until we qualify for direct ownership of educational businesses in China. Pursuant to our contractual arrangements with our Consolidated Affiliated Entities, we, through our wholly owned subsidiaries in China, exclusively provide comprehensive intellectual property licensing, technical and business support services to our Consolidated Affiliated Entities in exchange for payments from them. In addition, we have entered into agreements with Xueersi Education, Xueersi Network, Beijing Dongfangrenli and each of their respective shareholders, which provide us with the ability to effectively control Xueersi Education, Xueersi Network, Beijing Dongfangrenli and their respective existing and future subsidiaries and schools, as applicable.

 

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In or around September 2011, various media sources reported that the China Securities Regulatory Commission, or the CSRC, has conducted a study and prepared a report for the State Council that contemplates new regulations on the use of contractual arrangements in the context of foreign investment in China and overseas listings of Chinese entities. However, it is unclear whether the CSRC has officially submitted this report to the State Council, what specific content such report contains, what views other government authorities take on the use of such contractual arrangements and whether and when any action may be taken by the State Council, the CSRC, the Ministry of Commerce or any other PRC government authority in this respect.

 

If the corporate structure and contractual arrangements through which we conduct our business in China are found to be in violation of any existing or future PRC laws or regulations, or such arrangements are determined as illegal and invalid by PRC courts, arbitration tribunals or regulatory authorities, or if we fail to obtain or maintain any of the required permits or approvals, we would be subject to potential actions by the relevant PRC regulatory authorities with broad discretion, which actions could include:

 

·                  revoke our business and operating licenses;

 

·                  require us to discontinue or restrict our operations;

 

·                  limit our business expansion in China by way of entering into contractual arrangements;

 

·                  restrict our right to collect revenues or impose fines;

 

·                  block our websites;

 

·                  require us to restructure our operations in such a way as to compel us to establish a new enterprise, re-apply for the necessary licenses or relocate our businesses, staff and assets;

 

·                  impose additional conditions or requirements with which we may not be able to comply; or

 

·                  take other regulatory or enforcement actions against us that could be harmful to our business.

 

The imposition of any of these penalties could result in a material adverse effect on our ability to conduct our business.

 

We rely on contractual arrangements with our Consolidated Affiliated Entities for our China operations, which may not be as effective in providing operational control as direct ownership.

 

We have relied and expect to continue to rely on contractual arrangements with our Consolidated Affiliated Entities to operate our education business. For a description of these contractual arrangements, see “Item 4.C.—Information on the Company—Organizational Structure—Contractual Arrangements with Our Consolidated Affiliated Entities.” These contractual arrangements may not be as effective in providing us with control over our Consolidated Affiliated Entities as direct ownership. If we had direct ownership of the Consolidated Affiliated Entities, we would be able to exercise our rights as a shareholder to effect changes in the board of directors of these entities, which in turn could effect changes, subject to any applicable fiduciary obligations, at the management level. However, under the current contractual arrangements, we rely on the performance by our Consolidated Affiliated Entities and their respective shareholders of their obligations under the contracts to exercise control over and receive economic benefits from our Consolidated Affiliated Entities.

 

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We have entered into equity pledge agreements with Xueersi Education, Xueersi Network and Beijing Dongfangrenli and their respective shareholders to guarantee the performance of the obligations of our Consolidated Affiliated Entities under the exclusive business cooperation agreements they have entered into with us. In the registration forms submitted to the local branch of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce for the pledges over the equity interests under the equity pledge agreements, the amount of registered equity interests pledged to TAL Beijing, our wholly owned subsidiary, was RMB10 million, RMB3 million and RMB1 million for Xueersi Education, Xueersi Network and Beijing Dongfangrenli, respectively, which represents 100% of their respective registered capital. The equity pledge agreements with the shareholders of the VIEs provide that the pledged equity interest shall constitute continuing security for any and all of the indebtedness, obligations and liabilities under all of the principal service agreements and the scope of pledge shall not be limited by the amount of the registered capital of the VIEs. However, it is possible that a PRC court may take the position that the amount listed on the equity pledge registration forms represents the full amount of the collateral that has been registered and perfected. If this is the case, the obligations that are supposed to be secured in the equity pledge agreements in excess of the amount listed on the equity pledge registration forms could be determined by the PRC court as unsecured debt, which takes last priority among creditors.

 

In addition, we have not entered into agreements with our VIEs that pledge the assets of our Consolidated Affiliated Entities for the benefit of us or our wholly owned subsidiaries. Consequently, the assets of our Consolidated Affiliated Entities are not secured on behalf of our wholly owned subsidiary, and the amounts owed by our Consolidated Affiliated Entities are not collateralized. As a result, if our Consolidated Affiliated Entities fail to pay any amount due to us under, or otherwise breach, the exclusive business service agreements, we will not be able to directly seize the assets of our Consolidated Affiliated Entities. If the nominee shareholders of the VIEs do not act in the best interests of us when conflicts of interest arise, or if they act in bad faith towards us, they may attempt to cause the our Consolidated Affiliated Entities to transfer or encumber the assets of the Consolidated Affiliated Entities without our authorization. In such a scenario, we may choose to exercise our option under the call option agreements to demand the shareholders of the VIEs to transfer their respective equity interests in the VIEs to a PRC person designated by us, and we may need to resort to litigation in the PRC courts to effect such an equity interests transfer and prevent the transfer or encumbrance of the VIEs’ assets without our authorization. However, uncertainties in the PRC legal system could limit our ability to enforce these contractual arrangements.

 

Any failure by our VIEs or their respective shareholders to perform their obligations under our contractual arrangements with them would have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition.

 

If our VIEs or any of their respective subsidiaries or schools or any of their respective shareholders fails to perform its obligations under the contractual arrangements, we may have to incur substantial costs and resources to enforce our rights under the contracts, and rely on legal remedies under the PRC law, including seeking specific performance or injunctive relief and claiming damages, which may not be effective. For example, if the shareholders of our VIEs were to refuse to transfer their equity interest in these entities to us or our designee when we exercise the call option pursuant to these contractual arrangements, or if they were otherwise to act in bad faith toward us, we may have to take legal actions to compel them to perform their contractual obligations.

 

All the material agreements under our contractual arrangements, which are summarized under “Item 4.C.—Information on the Company—Organizational Structure—Contractual Arrangements with Our Consolidated Affiliated Entities”, are governed by PRC law and provide for the resolution of disputes under the agreements through arbitration in Beijing. Accordingly, these contracts would be interpreted in accordance with PRC law and any disputes would be resolved in accordance with PRC legal procedures. The legal system in the PRC is not as developed as some other jurisdictions, such as the United States. As a result, uncertainties in the PRC legal system could limit our ability to enforce these contractual arrangements. Under PRC law, rulings by arbitrators are final, parties cannot appeal the arbitration results in courts, and the prevailing parties may only enforce the arbitration awards in PRC courts through arbitration award recognition proceedings, which would incur additional expenses and delay. In the event we are unable to enforce these contractual arrangements, we may not be able to exert effective control over our Consolidated Affiliated Entities, and our ability to conduct our business may be negatively affected.

 

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The legal owners of our VIEs may have potential conflicts of interest with us, which may materially and adversely affect our business and financial condition.

 

The four legal owners of Xueersi Education and Xueersi Network are Mr. Bangxin Zhang, Mr. Yachao Liu, Mr. Yunfeng Bai and Mr. Yundong Cao, and the three legal owners of Beijing Dongfangrenli are Mr. Bangxin Zhang, Mr. Yachao Liu and Mr. Yunfeng Bai. Mr. Zhang, Mr. Liu and Mr. Bai are shareholders and directors or officers of TAL Education Group. Mr. Cao is a beneficial owner of TAL Education Group. Mr. Bangxin Zhang, is a director of TAL Education Group and a director of Xueersi Education, Xueersi Network and Beijing Dongfangrenli. The interests of Mr. Zhang, Mr. Liu, Mr. Bai and Mr. Cao as beneficial owners of the VIEs may differ from the interests of our company as a whole, since these parties’ respective equity interests in the VIEs may conflict with their respective equity interests in our company.

 

We cannot assure you that when conflicts of interest arise, any or all of these individuals will act in the best interests of our company or such conflicts will be resolved in our favor. In addition, these individuals may breach, or cause our Consolidated Affiliated Entities to breach, or refuse to renew, the existing contractual arrangements we have with them and our Consolidated Affiliated Entities. Currently, we do not have any arrangements to address potential conflicts of interest Mr. Zhang, Mr. Liu, Mr. Bai and Mr. Cao may encounter in their capacity as nominee shareholders of the VIEs (and, as applicable, as directors of the VIEs), on the one hand, and as beneficial owners of our company (and, as applicable, director and/or officers of our company), on the other hand. We rely on these individuals to abide by the laws of the Cayman Islands and China, which provide that directors and officers owe a fiduciary duty to our company that requires them to act in good faith and in the best interests of our company and not to use their positions for personal gains. If we cannot resolve any conflict of interest or dispute between us and the legal owners of the VIEs, we would have to rely on legal proceedings, which could result in disruption of our business and subject us to substantial uncertainty as to the outcome of any such legal proceedings.

 

If the custodians or authorized users of our controlling non-tangible assets, including chops and seals, fail to fulfill their responsibilities, or misappropriate or misuse these assets, our business and operations could be materially and adversely affected.

 

Under PRC law, legal documents for corporate transactions, including agreements and contracts such as the leases and sales contracts that our business relies on, are executed using the chop or seal of the signing entity or with the signature of a legal representative whose designation is registered and filed with the relevant Administration of Industry and Commerce. We generally execute legal documents by affixing chops or seals, rather than having the designated legal representatives sign the documents.

 

We have three major types of chops—corporate chops, contract chops and finance chops. We use corporate chops generally for documents to be submitted to government agencies, such as applications for changing business scope, directors or company name, and for legal letters. We use corporate chops or contract chops for executing leases and commercial contracts. We use finance chops generally for making and collecting payments, including, but not limited to issuing invoices. Use of chops must be approved by the responsible departments and follow our internal procedure.

 

In order to maintain the physical security of our chops, we generally have them stored in secured locations accessible only to authorized employees. Our designated legal representatives generally do not have access to the chops. Although we monitor such employees and the designated legal representatives, the procedures may not be sufficient to prevent all instances of abuse or negligence. There is a risk that our employees or designated legal representatives could abuse their authority, for example, by binding the relevant subsidiary or Consolidated Affiliated Entity with contracts against our interests, as we would be obligated to honor these contracts if the other contracting party acts in good faith in reliance on the apparent authority of our chops or signatures of our legal representatives. If any designated legal representative obtains control of the chop in an effort to obtain control over the relevant entity, we would need to have a shareholder or board resolution to designate a new legal representative and to take legal action to seek the return of the chop, apply for a new chop with the relevant authorities, or otherwise seek legal remedies for the legal representative’s violation of the duties to us.

 

If any of the authorized employees or designated legal representatives obtain and misuse or misappropriate our chops and seals or other controlling intangible assets for whatever reason, we could experience disruption to our normal business operations. We may have to take corporate or legal action, which could involve significant time and resources to resolve while distracting management from our operations.

 

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Our Consolidated Affiliated Entities may be subject to significant limitations on their ability to operate private schools or make payments to related parties, or otherwise be materially and adversely affected by changes in PRC laws governing private education providers.

 

The principal regulations governing private education in China are The Law for Promoting Private Education and The Implementation Rules for The Law for Promoting Private Education. Under these regulations, a private school may elect to be a school that does not require reasonable returns or a school that requires reasonable returns. At the end of each fiscal year, every private school is required to allocate a certain amount to its development fund for the construction or maintenance of the school or procurement or upgrade of educational equipment. In the case of a private school that requires reasonable returns, this amount shall be no less than 25% of the annual net income of the school, while in the case of a private school that does not require reasonable returns, this amount shall be equivalent to no less than 25% of the annual increase in the net assets of the school, if any. A private school that requires reasonable returns must publicly disclose such election and additional information required under the regulations. A private school shall consider factors such as the school’s tuition, ratio of the funds used for education-related activities to the course fees collected, admission standards and educational quality when determining the percentage of the school’s net income that would be distributed to the investors as reasonable returns. However, none of the current PRC laws and regulations provides a formula or guidelines for determining “reasonable returns.” In addition, none of the current PRC laws and regulations sets forth clear requirements or restrictions on a private school’s ability to operate its education business based on such school’s status as one that does or does not require reasonable returns.

 

Our schools are registered as schools that require reasonable returns in some cities and as schools that do not require reasonable returns in others. As of the date of this annual report, we have 30 affiliated schools, among which 11 have elected not to require reasonable returns and the remaining 19 have elected to require reasonable returns. The respective sponsor of each school will make such election and determine the amounts to be allocated to each school’s development fund in accordance with PRC laws and regulations. We do not believe that the election to be a school that does or does not require reasonable returns will affect amounts that may be distributed to us by means of different fee payments such as service fees. As a holding company, we rely on dividends and other distributions from our PRC subsidiaries, including TAL Beijing. TAL Beijing and its designated affiliates are entitled to receive service fees from the schools according to the relevant exclusive business cooperation agreements. We do not believe that TAL Beijing and its designated affiliates’ right to receive the service fees from the schools will be affected by such election, but if our judgment turns out to be incorrect, TAL Beijing and our other PRC subsidiaries’ ability to make distributions or pay dividends to us may be materially and adversely impacted. If a school elects to be a school that does not require reasonable return but in fact pays reasonable return to its sponsor, in extreme cases, PRC government authorities have the right to suspend the operations of the relevant school and suspend student enrollment and perhaps even to de-register the operating permits of such schools altogether, which may materially and adversely impact our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

Contractual arrangements our subsidiaries have entered into with our Consolidated Affiliated Entities may be subject to scrutiny by the PRC tax authorities and a finding that we or our Consolidated Affiliated Entities owe additional taxes could substantially reduce our consolidated net income and the value of your investment.

 

Under PRC laws and regulations, arrangements and transactions among related parties may be subject to audit or challenge by the PRC tax authorities within ten years after the taxable year when the transactions are conducted. We could face material and adverse tax consequences if the PRC tax authorities determine that the contractual arrangements between our wholly owned subsidiaries in China and our Consolidated Affiliated Entities do not represent an arm’s-length price and consequently adjust our Consolidated Affiliated Entities’ income in the form of a transfer pricing adjustment. A transfer pricing adjustment could, among other things, result in a reduction, for PRC tax purposes, of expense deductions recorded by our Consolidated Affiliated Entities, which could in turn increase their tax liabilities. In addition, the PRC tax authorities may impose late payment fees and other penalties to our Consolidated Affiliated Entities for unpaid taxes. Our consolidated net income may be materially and adversely affected if our Consolidated Affiliated Entities’ tax liabilities increase or if they are subject to late payment fees or other penalties.

 

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If any of our PRC subsidiaries or Consolidated Affiliated Entities becomes the subject of a bankruptcy or liquidation proceeding, we may lose the ability to use and enjoy certain important assets, which could reduce the size of our operations and materially and adversely affect our business, ability to generate revenue and the market price of our ADSs.

 

We currently conduct our operations in China mainly through contractual arrangements with our Consolidated Affiliated Entities. As part of these arrangements, our Consolidated Affiliated Entities hold operating permits and licenses and some of the assets that are important to the operation of our business. If any of these entities goes bankrupt and all or part of their assets become subject to liens or rights of third-party creditors, we may be unable to continue some or all of our business activities, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

Risks Related to Doing Business in China

 

Uncertainties with respect to the PRC legal system could have a material adverse effect on us.

 

The PRC legal system is a civil law system based on written statutes. Unlike the common law system, prior court decisions in a civil law system may be cited for reference but have limited precedential value. Since 1979, PRC legislation and regulations have significantly enhanced the protections afforded to various forms of foreign investments in China. However, since these laws and regulations are relatively new and the PRC legal system continues to rapidly evolve, the interpretations of many laws, regulations and rules are not always consistent, and enforcement of these laws, regulations and rules involve uncertainties, which may limit the available legal protections. In addition, the PRC administrative and court authorities have significant discretion in interpreting and implementing or enforcing statutory rules and contractual terms, and it may be more difficult to predict the outcome of administrative and court proceedings and the level of legal protection we may enjoy in the PRC than under some more developed legal systems. These uncertainties may affect our judgment on the relevance of legal requirements and our decisions on the measures and actions to be taken to fully comply therewith and may affect our ability to enforce our contractual or tort rights. In addition, the regulatory uncertainties may be exploited through unmerited legal actions or threats in an attempt to extract payments or benefits from us. Such uncertainties may therefore increase our operating expenses and costs, and materially and adversely affect our business and results of operations.

 

Uncertainties with respect to PRC regulatory restrictions on after-school services could have a material adverse effect on us.

 

In 2009, the MOE, together with a few other PRC government agencies, issued implementation rules on administration of education-related fee collection, which provide, among other things, that schools that are part of the compulsory education system are not allowed to charge students additional fees for any type of after-school tutoring classes, and that public schools and their teachers, whether or not in cooperation with private schools, are prohibited from offering any type of after-school tutoring or training classes for a fee outside the school. Private schools, which are not part of the compulsory education system, generally are permitted to offer after-school tutoring services pursuant to their private school operating permits issued by the relevant PRC government authorities pursuant to the Law for Promoting Private Education and implementation rules promulgated thereunder. However, several provincial government agencies issued notices or rules applicable in their respective provinces expressly prohibiting even private schools from offering after-school tutoring classes to primary and secondary school students. Among the areas where we offer after-school tutoring services, local governments in Shanghai and Tianjin issued notices in 2004 and 2005, respectively, prohibiting private schools from offering after-school tutoring services to primary and secondary school students. Nevertheless, we are not aware of any instances in Shanghai or Tianjin where the government authorities took actions enforcing the aforementioned notices; nor have we received any notices, warnings or inquiries from these government authorities with respect to our tutoring services. In February 2013, the Beijing Municipal Education Commission issued a Notice on Reducing Schoolwork-Related Stress on Students in Primary and Secondary Schools, which, among other things, strictly prohibits private schools from offering after-school tutoring classes to primary and secondary school students. This notice came into effect in March 2013, but due to its relatively new status, there are uncertainties pertaining to its implementation. The aforementioned notices do not provide any monetary penalties for violations and thus we are not able to quantify the penalties that we may be subject to if we are deemed not to be in compliance with these notices. We are not aware of any imminent risks in connection with the aforementioned notices. However, since PRC regulatory authorities have significant discretion in interpreting and implementing rules and regulations and that regulatory enforcements can be inconsistent, we cannot assure you that we will not in the future be subject to the above mentioned regulations, fined or otherwise penalized by government authorities for offering such classes, in which case our business and operations could be materially and adversely affected.

 

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We are required to obtain various operating licenses and permits and to make registrations and filings for our tutoring services in China; failure to comply with these requirements may materially and adversely affect our business and results of operations.

 

We are required to obtain and maintain various licenses and permits and fulfill registration and filing requirements in order to operate our tutoring service business. For instance, a duly approved private school will be granted a private school operating permit, and shall be registered with the Ministry of Civil Affairs or its local bureaus as a privately run non-enterprise institution. In addition, learning centers of schools must make filings with the MOE or its local bureaus. As of the date of this annual report, we have 274 learning centers in operation, of which 180 learning centers offer Xueersi Peiyou small-class tutoring services and four learning centers offer Mobby small-class tutoring services. Among the 184 learning centers, 36 learning centers have not completed filing requirements for permits or registrations. These 36 learning centers in the aggregate accounted for 9.2% of our total net revenues for the fiscal year ended February 28, 2014. If we fail to comply with applicable legal requirements, we may be subject to fines, confiscation of any gains derived from our non-compliant operations or the suspension of our non-compliant operations, which may materially and adversely affect our business and results of operations.

 

We are in the process of preparing filings and applying for permits for these learning centers but do not expect to complete all such filings and obtain all such permits in the near term. We have been taking steps to meet these requirements, but there is no assurance that our efforts will result in full compliance given the significant amount of discretion PRC government authorities have in interpreting, implementing and enforcing rules and regulations and due to other factors beyond our control. For example, Shenzhen Municipal Education Bureau ceased accepting applications for the establishment of new private schools between the year of 2006 and December 7, 2010. While we were preparing the application to the Shenzhen educational authorities for the operating permits in Shenzhen, two of our learning centers received notices from the local city administrative departments in March 2012 which required us to obtain the operating permits before we could continue our business in Shenzhen. Revenues from the Shenzhen area contributed 6.3% of our total revenues for the fiscal year ended February 28, 2014. We later received the private school operating permit for our school in Shenzhen from Shenzhen Municipal Education Bureau in August 2013 and completed the registration with the Shenzhen City Civil Affairs Office in November 2013. For the nine Xueersi Peiyou learning centers operated by our school in Shenzhen, we have completed the required registration with the Shenzhen Education Bureau.

 

We have been making efforts to ensure compliance with applicable rules and regulations in establishing new learning centers, as well as to remediate non-compliances relating to our existing learning centers. In addition, our business and legal teams follow an internal guideline to make necessary filings and obtain necessary permits for new learning centers on a timely basis, and final business decisions are made taking into account the business and legal risks and uncertainties in our expansion plan. However, if we fail to comply with the applicable legal requirements concerning obtaining and maintaining applicable licenses and permits and fulfilling applicable registration and filing requirements to operate our after-school tutoring business, including any failure to cure non compliances in a timely manner, we may be subject to fines, confiscation of the gains derived from our noncompliant operations or the suspension of our noncompliant operations, which may materially and adversely affect our business and results of operations.

 

If the relevant PRC regulatory authorities subsequently determine that personalized premium services must be operated through schools or for-profit training institutions that meet certain legal requirements, our personalized premium services business would be exposed to increased risks, which may materially and adversely affect our business and results of operations.

 

Substantially all of the personalized premium services we offer in Beijing are offered through Huanqiu Zhikang and Zhixuesi Beijing, our wholly owned subsidiaries, both of which are foreign-invested companies under PRC laws. Huanqiu Zhikang and Zhixuesi Beijing together with their branches have obtained business licenses from the Beijing Administration of Industry and Commerce, or AIC, expressly permitting them to conduct “educational consulting services,” which we believe covers our personalized premium services in Beijing and are not under the jurisdiction of the Beijing Municipal Education Commission based on telephone inquiries we and our PRC counsel have made to the Beijing Municipal Education Commission. For the fiscal year ended February 28, 2014, revenues from the personalized premium services of Huanqiu Zhikang and Zhixuesi Beijing contributed approximately 13.3% of our total net revenues.

 

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In cities other than Beijing, our personalized premium services are offered mostly through the subsidiaries of our VIEs, and most of these subsidiaries have obtained business licenses from the local AIC office permitting them to conduct consulting services. However, some of the subsidiaries of our VIEs have not obtained business licenses that meet regulatory requirements. For example, Shanghai local educational authority and local AIC published provisional measures in June 2013 regarding the registration and management of for-profit educational institutions to provide the conditions and procedures for setting up for-profit private training institutions in the form of a company and further clarify that other types of companies shall not carry out educational consulting or one-on-one services. These provisional measures became effective on July 20, 2013 and will be in force for two years. We offered personalized premium services in some districts in Shanghai through companies with their business license not permitting them to conduct such consulting services and we have not yet set up companies in Shanghai to meet regulatory requirements in accordance with the aforementioned rules. In addition, six learning centers in Xi’an are operated by a subsidiary of a VIE without the scope of “educational consulting services” for the fiscal year ended February 28, 2014, revenues from the personalized premium services of such subsidiaries of our VIEs in Shanghai and Xi’an contributed approximately 1.4% of our total net revenues.

 

We believe that our personalized premium services fall within the scope of “for-profit training activities” and are not “educational activities” that must be under the jurisdiction of the educational authorities and thus offered through schools or educational institutions. However, the differences between “educational activities,” on the one hand, and “for-profit training activities” and “educational consulting services,” on the other hand, remain unclear under applicable PRC laws and regulations. The Law for Promoting Private Education provides that “educational activities,” which are required to be conducted through schools or educational institutions, shall be regulated by the Ministry of Education whereas “for-profit training activities” shall be regulated by the AIC in accordance with separate regulations to be issued by the State Council. To date, the State Council has not promulgated any regulations with respect to “for-profit training activities.” In July 2010, the MOE issued the National Guidance on Mid- to Long-term Education Reform and Development, which is the first guidance expressly encouraging the applicable PRC government authorities to classify, through implementing rules or regulations, activities as “for-profit training activities” to be conducted only by for-profit entities or “non-profit training or educational activities” to be conducted only by certain schools. However, to date, the AIC and MOE have not issued any such rules or regulations, and in practice, regulators in different local jurisdictions may still have different views and administrative policies on one-on-one tutoring activities. Therefore, we cannot be certain that the relevant government authorities will reach the same conclusion in the future as we have that our personalized premium services fall within the scope of “for-profit training activities” and are not “educational activities.”

 

If the relevant PRC regulatory authorities subsequently determine that our personalized premium services must be operated through schools or educational institutions, as opposed to through companies, or if the local AIC subsequently determines that our personalized premium services must be operated through companies that hold business licenses to cover for-profit training services or educational consulting services, we may be required to restructure our operations to offer personalized premium services through the schools owned by our VIEs. We may also be subject to fines of up to RMB100,000 for each of our subsidiaries that offers personalized premium services, suspension of our personalized premium services or other penalties, which may materially and adversely affect our business and results of operations.

 

Adverse changes in political and economic policies of the PRC government could have a material adverse effect on the overall economic growth of China, which could reduce the demand for our products and services and materially and adversely affect our competitive position.

 

All of our business operations are conducted in China and all of our sales are made in China. Accordingly, our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects are affected significantly by economic, political and legal developments in China. The economy in China differs from the economies of most developed countries in many respects, including:

 

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·                  degree of government involvement;

 

·                  level of development;

 

·                  rate of economic growth;

 

·                  control of foreign exchange rates and currency conversion;

 

·                  access to financing; and

 

·                  allocation of resources.

 

Although China has been transitioning from a planned economy to a more market-oriented economy since the 1970s, the PRC government continues to exercise significant control over China’s economy through resource allocation, foreign exchange control, monetary policies and administrative regulations of certain industries and entities. In recent years, the PRC government has implemented measures emphasizing the reliance on market forces to promote economic reform, reduce state ownership of productive assets and establish corporate governance structures in business enterprises. Nevertheless, a substantial portion of the productive assets in China are still owned by the PRC government. The continued control of these assets and other aspects of the national economy by the government could materially and adversely affect our business.

 

While the PRC economy has grown significantly in the past 30 years, the growth has been uneven geographically, among various sectors of the economy and during different periods. We cannot assure you that the PRC economy will continue to grow, or that if there is growth, such growth will be steady and uniform, or that any slowdowns in growth will not have a negative effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

 

We may rely on dividends paid by our subsidiaries for our cash needs, and any limitation on the ability of our subsidiaries to make payments to us could limit our ability to pay dividends to holders of our ADSs and common shares.

 

We are a holding company and conduct substantially all of our business through our operating subsidiaries and Consolidated Affiliated Entities, which are limited liability companies established in China. We may rely on dividends paid by our subsidiaries for our cash needs, including the funds necessary to pay dividends and other cash distributions to our shareholders, to service any debt we may incur and to pay our operating expenses. The payment of dividends by entities organized in China is subject to limitations. In particular, regulations in China currently permit payment of dividends only out of accumulated profits as determined in accordance with PRC accounting standards and regulations. PRC companies are also required to set aside at least 10% of their after-tax profit based on PRC accounting standards each year to their statutory surplus reserves until the accumulative amount of such reserves reaches 50% of their registered capital. These reserves are not distributable as cash dividends. In addition, PRC companies may allocate a portion of their after-tax profit to their staff welfare and bonus fund at the discretion of their boards of directors. Our PRC subsidiaries and Consolidated Affiliated Entities historically have not allocated any of their after-tax profits to staff welfare and bonus funds, since there is no legal requirement to do so, but they may nevertheless decide to set aside such funds in the future. There is no maximum amount of after-tax profit that a company may contribute to such funds. Moreover, each of our affiliated schools is required to allocate certain amount of profits to its development fund for the construction or maintenance of school facilities or procurement or upgrade of educational equipment at the end of each fiscal year. See “Item 4.B. Information on the Company—Business Overview—PRC Regulation—Regulations on Private Education—The Law for Promoting Private Education and the Implementation Rules for the Law for Promoting Private Education” for a discussion on the requirements for private schools to make allocations to school development funds. Any direct or indirect limitation on the ability of our PRC subsidiaries to distribute dividends and other distributions to us could materially and adversely limit our ability to make investments or acquisitions at the holding company level, pay dividends or otherwise fund and conduct our business.

 

PRC laws and regulations may limit the use of the proceeds we received from our initial public offering for our investment or operations in the PRC.

 

In utilizing the proceeds we received from our initial public offering in October 2010 or from other financing activities, as an offshore holding company with PRC subsidiaries, we may (i) make additional capital contributions to our PRC subsidiaries, (ii) establish new PRC subsidiaries and make capital contributions to these new PRC subsidiaries, (iii) make loans to our PRC subsidiaries or our VIEs, or (iv) acquire offshore entities with business operations in China in an offshore transaction. However, most of these uses are subject to PRC regulations and approvals. For example:

 

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·                  capital contributions to our subsidiaries in China, whether existing ones or newly established ones, must be approved by the PRC Ministry of Commerce or its local bureaus and must also be registered with the PRC State Administration of Foreign Exchange, or SAFE, or its local bureaus;

 

·                  loans by us to our subsidiaries in China, each of which is a foreign-invested enterprise, to finance their activities cannot exceed statutory limits and must be registered with the SAFE, or its local bureaus; and

 

·                  loans by us to our Consolidated Affiliated Entities, which are domestic PRC entities, must be approved by the National Development and Reform Commission and must also be registered with the SAFE or its local bureaus.

 

In addition, on August 29, 2008, the SAFE promulgated Circular 142, a notice regulating the conversion by a foreign-invested company of its capital contribution in foreign currency into Renminbi. It requires that Renminbi converted from foreign currency-denominated capital of a foreign-invested enterprise may only be used for purposes within the business scope approved by the relevant government authority and may not be used to make equity investments in China, unless specifically provided otherwise. Moreover, the approved use of such Renminbi funds may not be changed without approval from SAFE. Renminbi funds converted from foreign exchange may not be used to repay loans in Renminbi if the proceeds of such loans have not yet been used. Any violation of Circular 142 may result in severe penalties, including substantial fines. We expect that if we convert the net proceeds from our initial public offering into Renminbi pursuant to Circular 142, our use of Renminbi funds will be for purposes within the approved business scope of our PRC subsidiaries. However, we may not be able to use such Renminbi funds to make equity investments in the PRC through our PRC subsidiaries.

 

Furthermore, the SAFE promulgated a circular on November 9, 2010, or Circular 59, which, among other things, requires the authenticity of settlement of net proceeds from offshore offerings to be closely examined and the net proceeds to be settled in the manner described in the offering documents, or otherwise approved by the board of directors. Accordingly, as we apply with the SAFE to convert the proceeds from our initial public offering in October 2010 into Renminbi funds for use of such funds in the PRC, they need to be used in accordance with the section entitled “Use of Proceeds” in our initial public offering final prospectus, or when the proposed use of the proceeds is inconsistent with what is set forth in the section entitled “Use of Proceeds”, we need to submit the board resolution in relation to such proposed use of proceeds to the SAFE and the settlement of foreign exchange for such use of proceeds shall comply with the regulations of the PRC in relation to foreign exchange.

 

We expect that PRC laws and regulations may continue to limit our use of proceeds from our initial public offering or from other financing sources. There are no costs associated with registering loans or capital contributions with relevant PRC government authorities, other than nominal processing charges. Under PRC laws and regulations, the PRC government authorities are required to process such approvals or registrations or deny our application within a prescribed period which is usually less than 90 days. The actual time taken, however, may be longer due to administrative delay. We cannot assure you that we will be able to obtain these government registrations or approvals on a timely basis, if at all, with respect to our future plans to use the U.S. dollar proceeds we receive from our initial public offering for our investment and operations in China. If we fail to receive such registrations or approvals, our ability to use the proceeds of our initial public offering and to capitalize our PRC operations may be negatively affected, which could materially and adversely affect our liquidity and ability to fund and expand our business.

 

PRC regulations relating to the establishment of offshore special purpose companies by PRC residents may subject our PRC resident beneficial owners to personal liability and limit our ability to acquire PRC companies or to inject capital into our PRC subsidiary, limit our PRC subsidiary’s ability to distribute profits to us, or otherwise materially and adversely affect us.

 

The State Administration of Foreign Exchange, or SAFE, issued Circular 75, requiring PRC residents, including both legal persons and natural persons, to register with the relevant local branch of the SAFE before establishing or controlling any company outside of China, referred to as an “offshore special purpose company,” for the purpose of raising funds from overseas to acquire assets of, or equity interest in, PRC companies. In addition, any PRC resident that is the beneficial owner of an offshore special purpose company is required to amend his or her registration with the local branch of SAFE, with respect to that offshore special purpose company in connection with any increase or decrease in its capital, transfer of shares, merger, division, equity investment or creation of any security interest over any assets located in China. Any failure to comply with the above registration requirements could result in PRC subsidiaries being prohibited from distributing their profits and proceeds from any reduction in capital, share transfer or liquidation to their offshore parent companies, offshore parent companies being restricted in their ability to contribute additional capital into their PRC subsidiaries, and other liabilities under PRC laws for evasion of foreign exchange restrictions.

 

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We believe that all of our shareholders who are PRC citizens or residents have completed their required registrations with the SAFE in accordance with Circular 75 prior to, and immediately after, the completion of our initial public offering in October 2010. Our shareholders who are PRC citizens or residents have updated their registrations with the SAFE in accordance with Circular 75 to reflect the establishment of some new subsidiaries, name changes to some of our subsidiaries and changes to their shareholding. However, we may not at all times be fully aware or informed of the identities of all of our beneficial owners who are PRC citizens or residents, and we may not always be able to compel our beneficial owners to comply with Circular 75; nor can we ensure you that their registrations, if they choose to apply, will be successful. The failure or inability of our PRC resident beneficial owners to make any required registrations or comply with these requirements may subject such beneficial owners to fines and legal sanctions and may also limit our ability to contribute additional capital into or provide loans (including proceeds from our initial public offering in October 2010) to our China operations, limit our PRC subsidiary’s ability to pay dividends or otherwise distribute profits to us, or otherwise materially and adversely affect us.

 

The M&A rules establish complex procedures for some acquisitions of Chinese companies by foreign investors, which could make it more difficult for us to pursue growth through acquisitions in China.

 

On August 8, 2006, six PRC regulatory agencies, namely the Ministry of Commerce, the State Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, the State Administration for Taxation, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, the CSRC and SAFE, jointly adopted regulations, commonly referred to as the M&A Rules, which became effective on September 8, 2006 and was amended on June 22, 2009. The M&A Rules establish procedures and requirements that could make some acquisitions of Chinese companies by foreign investors more time-consuming and complex, including requirements in some instances that the Ministry of Commerce be notified in advance of any change-of-control transaction in which a foreign investor takes control of a Chinese domestic enterprise. We may expand our business in part by acquiring complementary businesses. Complying with the requirements of the M&A Rules to complete such transactions could be time-consuming, and any required approval processes, including obtaining approval from the Ministry of Commerce, may delay or inhibit our ability to complete such transactions, which could affect our ability to expand our business or maintain our market share.

 

The discontinuation of any of the preferential tax treatments currently available to us in China could adversely affect our overall results of operations.

 

Under the PRC Enterprise Income Tax Law, or the EIT Law, which became effective on January 1, 2008, the statutory enterprise income tax rate is 25%, except where a special preferential rate applies. Our VIE, Xueersi Education, was qualified as a “High and New Technology Enterprise,” under the EIT Law effective January 1, 2008 and therefore was qualified for a preferential tax rate of 15%. In addition, since Xueersi Education is located in a high and new technology industrial zone in Beijing and qualified as a High and New Technology Enterprise, it was entitled to a three-year exemption from the enterprise income tax from calendar year 2006 to 2008 and a further tax reduction to a rate of 7.5% from calendar year 2009 to 2011. From January 1, 2011, Xueersi Education is eligible for re-examination of High and New Technology Enterprise status at a preferential tax rate of 15% until the end of calendar year of 2013 and is currently in the process of reapplying for qualification as a “High and New Technology Enterprise”. Our wholly owned subsidiary, TAL Beijing, was qualified as a “Newly Established Software Enterprise” under the EIT Law and therefore entitled to a two-year exemption from the enterprise income tax from calendar year 2009 to 2010 and a further tax reduction to 50% of the applicable rate from calendar year 2011 to 2013. We are currently in the process of applying for qualification as a “High and New Technology Enterprise” for TAL Beijing. Having qualified as a “Newly Established Software Enterprise” under the EIT Law, our wholly owned subsidiary, Yidu Huida, is entitled to a two-year exemption from the enterprise income tax from calendar year 2011 to 2012 and a further tax reduction to 50% of the applicable rate from calendar year 2013 to 2015. Our wholly owned subsidiary Beijing Xintang Sichuang was also qualified as a “Newly Established Software Enterprise” under the EIT Law and is therefore entitled to a two-year exemption from the enterprise income tax from calendar year 2013 to 2014 and a further reduction to a tax rate of 12.5% from calendar year 2015 to 2017.

 

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On April 21, 2010, the State Administration of Taxation, or SAT, issued Circular 157, Further Clarification on Implementation of Preferential EIT Rate during Transition Periods, or Circular 157. Circular 157 seeks to provide additional guidance on the interaction of certain preferential tax rates under the transitional rules of the EIT Law. Prior to Circular 157, we interpreted the law to mean that if a High and New Technology Enterprise was in a tax holiday period that provided for “two-year exemption plus three-year half rate reduction” or “five-year exemption plus five-year half rate” or other tax exemptions and reductions, where it was entitled to a 50% reduction in the tax rate and was also entitled to a 15% rate of tax due to its High and New Technology Enterprise status under the EIT Law, then it was entitled to pay tax at the rate of 7.5%. Circular 157 appears to have the effect that such an entity is entitled to pay tax at the lower of 15% and 50% of the standard PRC tax rate, which is currently 25%. Based on the interpretation of Circular 157 from the relevant local tax authority, we believe that entities that were qualified for “3-year exemption plus 3-year half rate” tax holiday as High and New Technology Enterprises and were registered in the Zhongguancun High and New Technology Industrial Zone of Beijing were eligible to pay income tax at a rate of 7.5%. Since Xueersi Education enjoyed a “3-year exemption plus 3-year half rate” and was a High and New Technology Enterprise registered in the Zhongguancun High and New Technology Industrial Zone of Beijing, Xueersi Education paid income tax at the rate of 7.5% through calendar year 2011, and from January 1, 2012 to the end of calendar year of 2013 Xueersi Education had a preferential tax rate of 15% due to its having passed the annual re-examination of High and New Technology Enterprise status. We cannot assure you, however, that the tax authorities will not in the future change their position on our preferential tax treatments or that our subsidiaries and Consolidated Affiliated Entities will be able to pass their respective annual re-examination and obtain preferential tax treatment.

 

Further, the preferential tax treatments granted to us by government authorities may be adjusted or revoked at any time in the future. The discontinuation of any preferential tax treatments currently available to us will cause our effective tax rate to increase, which will increase our income tax expenses and in turn decrease our net income.

 

Under the EIT Law, we may be classified as a “resident enterprise” of China. Such classification could result in unfavorable tax consequences to us and our non-PRC shareholders.

 

Under the EIT Law, an enterprise established outside of China with “de facto management body” within China is considered a “resident enterprise,” meaning that it can be treated in a manner similar to a Chinese enterprise for enterprise income tax purposes, although the dividends paid to one resident enterprise from another may be qualified as “tax-exempt income.” The implementing rules of the EIT Law define de facto management as “substantial and overall management and control over the production and operations, personnel, accounting, and properties” of the enterprise. A circular issued by the State Administration of Taxation on April 22, 2009 provides that a foreign enterprise controlled by a PRC company or a PRC company group will be classified as a “resident enterprise” with its “de facto management body” located within China if all of the following requirements are satisfied: (i) the senior management and core management departments in charge of its daily operations function are mainly in the PRC; (ii) its financial and human resources decisions are subject to determination or approval by persons or bodies in the PRC; (iii) its major assets, accounting books, company seals, and minutes and files of its board and shareholders’ meetings are located or kept in the PRC; and (iv) at least half of the enterprise’s directors with voting right or senior management reside in the PRC.

 

In addition, the State Administration of Taxation issued a bulletin on August 3, 2011, effective as of September 1, 2011, to provide more guidance on the implementation of the above circular. The bulletin clarified certain matters relating to resident status determination, post-determination administration and competent tax authorities. It also specifies that when provided with a copy of a PRC tax resident determination certificate from a resident PRC-controlled offshore incorporated enterprise, the payer should not withhold 10% income tax when paying the PRC-sourced dividends, interest and royalties to the PRC-controlled offshore incorporated enterprise. Although both the circular and the bulletin only apply to offshore enterprises controlled by PRC enterprises and not those by PRC individuals, the determination criteria set forth in the circular and administration clarification made in the bulletin may reflect the SAT’s general position on how the “de facto management body” test should be applied in determining the tax residency status of offshore enterprises and the administration measures should be implemented, regardless of whether they are controlled by PRC enterprises or PRC individuals.

 

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As substantially all of our management members are based in China, it remains unclear how the tax residency rule will apply to our case. We are not aware of any offshore holding companies with a similar corporate structure as ours ever having been deemed to be PRC “resident enterprises” by the PRC tax authorities. We believe that none of our offshore holding companies should be treated as a “resident enterprise” for PRC tax purposes. However, as the tax resident status of an enterprise is subject to determination by the PRC tax authorities, there are uncertainties and risks associated with this issue. If the PRC tax authorities determine that any of our offshore holding companies are “resident enterprises” for PRC enterprise income tax purposes, a number of unfavorable PRC tax consequences could follow. First, we may be subject to enterprise income tax at a rate of 25% on our worldwide taxable income, as well as PRC enterprise income tax reporting obligations. Second, although under the EIT Law and its implementing rules, dividend income between qualified resident enterprises is a “tax-exempt income,” we cannot guarantee that dividends paid to TAL Education Group from our PRC subsidiaries through TAL Hong Kong, or dividends paid from our PRC subsidiaries to Yidu Technology Group, or Yidu Cayman, through Yidu Technology Group Limited, or Yidu Hong Kong, would qualify as “tax-exempt income” and will not be subject to withholding tax, as the PRC foreign exchange control authorities, which enforce the withholding tax, have not yet issued guidance with respect to the processing of outbound remittances to entities that are treated as “resident enterprises” for PRC enterprise income tax purposes. Finally, the “resident enterprise” classification could result in a situation in which a 10% withholding tax is imposed on dividends we pay to our non-PRC enterprise shareholders and with respect to gains derived by our non-PRC and enterprise shareholders from transferring our notes, shares or ADSs, if such income is considered PRC-sourced income by the relevant PRC authorities. This could have the effect of increasing our and our shareholders’ effective income tax rates and may require us to deduct withholding tax from any dividends we pay to our non-PRC shareholders. In addition to the uncertainties regarding how the “resident enterprise” classification may apply, it is also possible that the rules may change in the future, possibly with retroactive effect.

 

Dividends we receive from our operating subsidiaries located in the PRC may be subject to PRC withholding tax.

 

Pursuant to the Arrangement between the PRC and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on the Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion, dividends declared after January 1, 2008 and distributed to our Hong Kong subsidiaries by our PRC subsidiaries are subject to withholding tax at a rate of 5%, provided that our Hong Kong subsidiaries are deemed by the relevant PRC tax authorities to be “non- PRC resident enterprises” under the EIT Law and hold at least 25% of the equity interest of our PRC subsidiaries. The State Administration for Taxation promulgated the Notice on How to Understand and Determine the Beneficial Owners in Tax Agreement on October 27, 2009, or SAT Circular 601, which provides guidance for determining whether a resident of a jurisdiction with tax treaties with the PRC is the “beneficial owner” of an item of income under PRC tax treaties and tax arrangements. According to SAT Circular 601, a beneficial owner generally must engage in substantive business activities. An agent or conduit company will not be regarded as a beneficial owner and, therefore, will not qualify for treaty benefits. A conduit company normally refers to a company that is set up for the purpose of avoiding or reducing taxes or transferring or accumulating profits. Although we may use our Hong Kong subsidiaries as a platform to expand our business in the future, our Hong Kong subsidiaries currently do not engage in any substantive business activities and thus it is possible that our Hong Kong subsidiaries may not be regarded as “beneficial owners” for the purposes of SAT Circular 601 and the dividends they receive from our PRC subsidiaries would be subject to withholding tax at a rate of 10%.

 

We face uncertainties with respect to application of the Circular on Strengthening the Administration of Enterprise Income Tax for Share Transfer of Non-PRC Resident Enterprises.

 

Pursuant to the Notice on Strengthening Administration of Enterprise Income Tax for Share Transfers by Non-PRC Resident Enterprises, or Circular 698, issued by the State Administration of Taxation on December 10, 2009, where a foreign investor transfers the equity interests of a resident enterprise indirectly via disposition of the equity interests of an overseas holding company, or an “Indirect Transfer,” and such overseas holding company is located in a tax jurisdiction that (i) has an effective tax rate less than 12.5% or (ii) does not tax foreign income of its residents, the foreign investor shall report the Indirect Transfer to the competent tax authority. The PRC tax authority will examine the true nature of the Indirect Transfer, and if the tax authority considers that the foreign investor has adopted an “abusive arrangement” in order to avoid PRC tax, it may disregard the existence of the overseas holding company and re-characterize the Indirect Transfer and as a result, gains derived from such Indirect Transfer may be subject to PRC withholding tax at a rate of up to 10%. Circular 698 also provides that, where a non-PRC resident enterprise transfers its equity interests in a resident enterprise to its related parties at a price lower than the fair market value, the competent tax authority has the power to make a reasonable adjustment to the taxable income of the transaction. Circular 698 is retroactively effective from January 1, 2008. Although several issues related to Circular 698 were clarified through the Public Notice dated March 28, 2011 by the State Administration of Taxation, there is little guidance and practical experience regarding the application of this tax circular. In recent cases, some intermediary holding companies were actually looked through by the PRC tax authorities, and consequently the non-PRC resident investors were deemed to have transferred the PRC subsidiaries and PRC corporate taxes were assessed accordingly. It is possible that we or our non-PRC resident investors may become at risk of being taxed under Circular 698 and may be required to expend valuable resources to comply with Circular 698 or to establish that we or our non-PRC resident investors should not be taxed under Circular 698, which may have an adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations or such non-PRC resident investors’ investment in us.

 

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We face risks and uncertainties with respect to the licensing requirement for Internet audio-video programs.

 

On December 20, 2007, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, or SAPPRFT (formerly known as the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, or SARFT) and the Ministry of Information Industry, or MII, issued the Administrative Measures Regarding Internet Audio-Video Program Services, or the Internet Audio-Video Program Measures, which became effective on January 31, 2008. Among other things, the Internet Audio-Video Program Measures stipulate that no entities or individuals may provide Internet audio-video program services without a “License for Disseminating Audio-Video Programs through Information Network” issued by SAPPRFT or its local bureaus or completing the relevant registration with SAPPRFT or its local bureaus, and only entities wholly owned or controlled by the PRC government may engage in the production, editing, integration or consolidation, and transmission to the public through the Internet, of audio-video programs, or the provision of audio-video program uploading and transmission services. On February 3, 2008, SAPPRFT and MII jointly held a press conference in response to inquiries related to the Internet Audio-Video Program Measures, during which SAPPRFT and MII officials indicated that providers of audio-video program services established prior to the promulgation date of the Internet Audio-Video Program Measures that do not have any regulatory non-compliance records can re-register with the relevant government authorities to continue their current business operations. After the conference, the two authorities published a press release that confirmed the above guidelines. There are still significant uncertainties relating to the interpretation and implementation of the Internet Audio-Video Program Measures, in particular, the scope of “Internet Audio-Video Programs.”

 

Furthermore, on April 1, 2010, SAPPRFT promulgated the Test Implementation of the Tentative Categories of Internet Audio-Visual Program Services, or the Categories, which clarified the scope of Internet audio-video programs services. According to the Categories, there are four categories of Internet audio-visual program services which are further divided into seventeen sub-categories. The third sub-category to the second category covers the making and editing of certain specialized audio-video programs concerning, among other things, educational content, and broadcasting such content to the general public online.

 

We began offering online courses in 2010 www.xueersi.com, and in the fiscal years ended February 29, 2012, February 28, 2013 and February 28, 2014, revenues derived from audio-video program services offered through www.xueersi.com that may be subject to the Audio-Video Program Measures were 3.2%, 3.1% and 3.0%, respectively, of our total net revenues. In the course of offering online tutoring services, we transmit our audio-video educational courses and programs through the Internet only to enrolled students, not to the general public. The limited scope of our audience distinguishes us from general online audio-video broadcasting companies, such as companies operating user-generated content websites. In addition, we do not provide audio-video program uploading and transmission services. As a result, we believe that we are not subject to the Internet Audio-Video Program Measures. However, there is no further official or publicly available interpretation of these definitions, especially the scope of “Internet audio-video program service.” If the government authorities determine that our provision of online tutoring services falls within the Internet Audio-Video Program Measures, we may not be able to obtain the License for Disseminating Audio-Video Programs through Information Network. If this occurs, we may become subject to significant penalties, fines, legal sanctions or an order to suspend our use of audio-video content.

 

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Fluctuations in exchange rates could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and the value of your investment.

 

Substantially all of our revenues and costs are denominated in RMB. The value of the RMB against the U.S. dollar and other currencies is affected by, among other things, changes in China’s political and economic conditions and China’s foreign exchange policies. The conversion of Renminbi into foreign currencies, including U.S. dollars, is based on rates set by the People’s Bank of China. The PRC government allowed the Renminbi to appreciate by more than 20% against the U.S. dollar between July 2005 and July 2008. Between July 2008 and June 2010, this appreciation was halted and the exchange rate between the Renminbi and the U.S. dollar remained within a narrow band. As a consequence, the RMB fluctuated significantly during that period against other freely traded currencies, in tandem with the U.S. dollar. Since June 2010, the PRC government has allowed the Renminbi to appreciate slowly against the U.S. dollar again. It is difficult to predict how market forces or PRC or U.S. government policy may impact the exchange rate between the Renminbi and the U.S. dollar in the future.

 

To the extent that we need to convert U.S. dollars into RMB for capital expenditures and working capital and other business purposes, appreciation of the RMB against the U.S. dollar would have an adverse effect on the RMB amount we would receive from the conversion. Conversely, if we decide to convert RMB into U.S. dollars for the purpose of making payments for dividends on our common shares or ADSs, strategic acquisitions or investments or other business purposes, appreciation of the U.S. dollar against the RMB would have a negative effect on the U.S. dollar amount available to us.

 

Very limited hedging options are available in China to reduce our exposure to exchange rate fluctuations. To date, we have not entered into any hedging transactions in an effort to reduce our exposure to foreign currency exchange risk. While we may decide to enter into hedging transactions in the future, the availability and effectiveness of these hedges may be limited and we may not be able to adequately hedge our exposure or at all. In addition, our currency exchange losses may be magnified by PRC exchange control regulations that restrict our ability to convert RMB into foreign currency. As a result, fluctuations in exchange rates may have a material adverse effect on your investment.

 

Governmental control of currency conversion may affect the value of your investment.

 

The PRC government imposes controls on the convertibility of the Renminbi into foreign currencies and, in certain cases, the remittance of currency out of China. Under our current corporate structure, our income will be primarily derived from a share of the earnings from our PRC subsidiaries. Revenues of our PRC subsidiaries are all denominated in Renminbi. Shortages in the availability of foreign currency may restrict the ability of our PRC subsidiaries to remit sufficient foreign currency to pay dividends or other payments to us, or otherwise satisfy their foreign currency-denominated obligations. Under existing PRC foreign exchange regulations, payments of current account items, including profit distributions, interest payments and expenditures from trade-related transactions, can be made in foreign currencies without prior approval from the SAFE by complying with certain procedural requirements. However, for any PRC company, dividends can be declared and paid only out of the retained earnings of that company under PRC law. Furthermore, approval from the SAFE or its local branch is required where Renminbi is to be converted into foreign currency and remitted out of China to pay capital expenses, such as the repayment of loans denominated in foreign currencies. Specifically, under the existing exchange restrictions, without a prior approval of the SAFE, cash generated from the operations of our subsidiaries in China may be used to pay dividends by our PRC subsidiaries to TAL Education Group through our Hong Kong subsidiaries and pay employees of our PRC subsidiaries who are located outside China in a currency other than the Renminbi. With a prior approval from SAFE, cash generated from the operations of our PRC subsidiaries and Consolidated Affiliated Entities may be used to pay off debt in a currency other than the Renminbi owed by our subsidiaries and Consolidated Affiliated Entities to entities outside China, and make other capital expenditures outside China in a currency other than the Renminbi. The PRC government may also at its discretion restrict access in the future to foreign currencies for current account transactions. If the foreign exchange control system prevents us from obtaining sufficient foreign currency to satisfy our currency demands, we may not be able to pay dividends in foreign currencies to our shareholders, including holders of our ADSs.

 

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The audit report included in this annual report is prepared by auditors who are not inspected by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board and, as such, you are deprived of the benefits of such inspection.

 

Our independent registered public accounting firm that issues the audit reports included in our annual reports filed with the SEC, as auditors of companies that are traded publicly in the United States and a firm registered with the United States Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, or the PCAOB, is required by the laws of the United States to undergo regular inspections by the PCAOB to assess its compliance with the laws of the United States and professional standards. Because our auditors are located in the PRC, a jurisdiction where the PCAOB is currently unable to conduct inspections without the approval of the Chinese authorities, our auditors are not currently inspected by the PCAOB.

 

Inspections of other firms that the PCAOB has conducted outside China have identified deficiencies in those firms' audit procedures and quality control procedures, which may be addressed as part of the inspection process to improve future audit quality. This lack of PCAOB inspections in China prevents the PCAOB from regularly evaluating our auditor's audits and its quality control procedures. As a result, investors may be deprived of the benefits of PCAOB inspections.

 

The inability of the PCAOB to conduct inspections of auditors in China makes it more difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of our auditor's audit procedures or quality control procedures as compared to auditors outside of China that are subject to PCAOB inspections. Investors may lose confidence in our reported financial information and procedures and the quality of our financial statements.

 

Employee participants in our share incentive plan who are PRC citizens may be required to register with SAFE. We also face regulatory uncertainties in China that could restrict our ability to grant restricted shares or share options to our employees who are PRC citizens.

 

To implement the Administrative Rule on Foreign Exchange Matters of Individuals promulgated by the People’s Bank of China and its related implementing rule provided by SAFE, on March 28, 2007, the SAFE issued the Operating Procedures for Administration of Domestic Individuals Participating in the Employee Stock Incentive Plan and Stock Option Plan of An Overseas Listed Company, or Circular 78. For any plans adopted by an overseas listed company that are covered by Circular 78, Circular 78 requires the employee participants who are PRC citizens to register, through a PRC agent or PRC subsidiary of the overseas listed company, with the SAFE or its local branch. In addition, Circular 78 also requires the employee participants who are PRC citizens to follow a series of requirements, including applications for foreign exchange purchase quotas, opening of special bank accounts and filings with the SAFE or its local branch before they exercise their stock options. On January 7, 2008, the SAFE issued Notice on Relinquishing Power of Approving the First-time Application of Foreign Exchange Purchase Quotas, Opening of Special Bank Accounts. According to this notice, SAFE’s local branches at provincial level have the authority to approve certain foreign exchange transactions in connection with equity compensation plans or incentive plans.

 

Pursuant to the Notices on Issues concerning the Foreign Exchange Administration for Domestic Individuals Participating in a Stock Incentive Plan of an Overseas Publicly-Listed Company issued by the SAFE on February 15, 2012, or Circular 7, which terminated both Circular 78 and the Notice on Relinquishing Power of Approving the First-time Application of Foreign Exchange Purchase Quotas, Opening of Special Bank Accounts issued by the SAFE on January 7, 2008, a qualified PRC agent (which could be the PRC subsidiary of the overseas-listed company) is required to file, on behalf of “domestic individuals” (both PRC residents and non-PRC residents who reside in the PRC for a continuous period of not less than one year, excluding the foreign diplomatic personnel and representatives of international organizations) who are granted shares or share options by the overseas-listed company according to its stock incentive plan, an application with the SAFE to conduct the SAFE registration with respect to such stock incentive plan, and obtain approval for an annual allowance with respect to the purchase of foreign exchange in connection with the stock purchase or stock option exercise. Such PRC individuals’ foreign exchange income received from the sale of stocks and dividends distributed by the overseas listed company and any other income shall be fully remitted into a collective foreign currency account in the PRC opened and managed by the PRC domestic agent before distribution to such individuals. In addition, such domestic individuals must also retain an overseas entrusted institution to handle matters in connection with their exercise of stock options and their purchase and sale of stock. The PRC domestic agent also needs to update registration with the SAFE within three months after the overseas-listed company materially changes its stock incentive plan or make any new stock incentive plans.

 

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Prior to the issuance of Circular 7, we received approval from the SAFE’s Beijing branch in January 2012 in regards to applications we had submitted on behalf of certain of our employees who hold a significant number of restricted shares. Upon the issuance of Circular 7, we renewed our registration on behalf of these employees in accordance with Circular 7 as Circular 78 ceased to be applicable for such registration. From time to time, we need to apply for or to update our registration with the SAFE or its local bureaus on behalf of our employees who are granted options or registered shares under our share incentive plan or material changes in our current share incentive plan. However, we may not always be able to make applications or update our registration on behalf of our employees who hold our restricted shares in compliance with Circular 7, nor can we ensure you that such applications or update of registration will be successful. If we or the participants of our share incentive plan who are PRC citizens fail to comply with Circular 7, we and/or such participants of our share incentive plan may be subject to fines and legal sanctions, there may be additional restrictions on the ability of such participants to exercise their stock options or remit proceeds gained from sale of their stock into the PRC, and we may be prevented from further granting restricted shares or from granting options under our share incentive plan to our employees who are PRC citizens. Such events could adversely affect our business operations.

 

Proceedings instituted by the SEC against five PRC-based accounting firms, including our independent registered public accounting firm, could result in financial statements being determined to not be in compliance with the requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act.

 

In late 2012, the SEC commenced administrative proceedings under Rule 102(e) of its Rules of Practice and also under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 against the Chinese affiliates of the ‘‘big four’’ accounting firms, (including our auditors) and also against Dahua (the former BDO affiliate in China). The Rule 102(e) proceedings initiated by the SEC relate to these firms’ inability to produce documents, including audit work papers, in response to the request of the SEC pursuant to Section 106 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, as the auditors located in the PRC are not in a position lawfully to produce documents directly to the SEC because of restrictions under PRC law and specific directives issued by the CSRC. The issues raised by the proceedings are not specific to our auditors or to us, but affect equally all audit firms based in China and all China-based businesses with securities listed in the United States.

 

In January 2014, the administrative judge reached an Initial Decision that the “big four” accounting firms should be barred from practicing before the Commission for six months. However, it is currently impossible to determine the ultimate outcome of this matter as the accounting firms have filed a Petition for Review of the Initial Decision and pending that review the effect of the Initial Decision is suspended. The SEC Commissioners will review the Initial Decision, determine whether there has been any violation and, if so, determine the appropriate remedy to be placed on these audit firms. Once such an order was made, the accounting firms would have a further right to appeal to the U.S. Federal courts, and the effect of the order might be further stayed pending the outcome of that appeal.

 

Depending upon the final outcome, listed companies in the United States with major PRC operations may find it difficult or impossible to retain auditors in respect of their operations in the PRC, which could result in financial statements being determined to not be in compliance with the requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, including possible delisting. Moreover, any negative news about the proceedings against these audit firms may cause investor uncertainty regarding China-based, United States-listed companies and the market price of our ADSs may be adversely affected.

 

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Risks Related to Our ADSs

 

The market price for our ADSs may be volatile.

 

The market price for our ADSs has fluctuated significantly since we first listed our ADSs. Since our ADSs became listed on the New York Stock Exchange on October 20, 2010, the closing prices of our ADSs have ranged from $7.3 to $25.61 per ADS, and the last reported trading price on May 9, 2014 was $23.15 per ADS.

 

The market price for our ADSs is likely to be highly volatile and subject to wide fluctuations in response to factors such as:

 

·                  actual or anticipated fluctuations in our operating results,

 

·                  changes in financial estimates by securities research analysts,

 

·                  changes in the economic performance or market valuation of other education companies,

 

·                  announcements by us or our competitors of significant acquisitions, strategic partnerships, joint ventures or capital commitments,

 

·                  addition or departure of our executive officers and key personnel,

 

·                  detrimental negative publicity about us, our competitors or our industry,

 

·                  intellectual property litigation, and

 

·                  general economic, regulatory or political conditions in China and the U.S.

 

In addition, the stock market in general, and the market prices for companies with operations in China in particular, have experienced volatility that often has been unrelated to the operating performance of such companies. The securities of some China-based companies that have listed their securities in the United States have experienced significant volatility since their initial public offerings, including, in some cases, substantial price declines in the trading prices of their securities. The trading performances of these Chinese companies’ securities after their offerings may affect the attitudes of investors toward Chinese companies listed in the United States, which consequently may impact the trading performance of our ADSs, regardless of our actual operating performance. In addition, any negative news or perceptions about inadequate corporate governance practices or fraudulent accounting, corporate structure or other matters of other Chinese companies may also negatively affect the attitudes of investors towards Chinese companies in general, including us, regardless of whether we have conducted any inappropriate activities. Further, the global financial crisis and the ensuing economic recessions in many countries have contributed and may continue to contribute to extreme volatility in the global stock markets. These broad market and industry fluctuations may adversely affect operating performance. Volatility or a lack of positive performance in our ADS price may also adversely affect our ability to retain key employees, some of whom have been granted restricted shares under our share incentive plan.

 

Our dual-class voting structure will limit your ability to influence corporate matters and could discourage others from pursuing any change of control transactions that holders of our Class A common shares and ADSs may view as beneficial.

 

Our common shares are divided into Class A common shares and Class B common shares. Holders of Class A common shares are entitled to one vote per share, while holders of Class B common shares are entitled to ten votes per share. We issued Class A common shares represented by our ADSs in our initial public offering in October 2010. As part of the redesignation of our capital structure at the time of our initial public offering, all of our existing shareholders as of September 29, 2010, including our founders, received Class B common shares, and our outstanding preferred shares were automatically converted into Class B common shares immediately prior to the completion of our initial public offering. Holders of Class A common shares are entitled to one vote per share, while holders of Class B common shares are entitled to ten votes per share. Each Class B common share is convertible into one Class A common share at any time by the holder thereof. Class A common shares are not convertible into Class B common shares under any circumstances.

 

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Upon any transfer of Class B common shares by a holder thereof to any person or entity which is not an affiliate of such holder, such Class B common shares shall be automatically and immediately converted into the equal number of Class A common shares. In addition, if at any time, any of the persons who held Class B common shares immediately before our initial public offering and their affiliates collectively own less than 5% of the total number of the issued and outstanding Class B common shares, each issued and outstanding Class B common share owned by such Class B holder shall be automatically and immediately converted into one share of Class A common share, and no Class B common shares shall be issued by us thereafter. Due to the disparate voting powers attached to these two classes, As of April 30, 2014, holders of our Class B common shares (excluding any Class A common shares such holder may hold in the form of ADSs) collectively hold approximately 91.0% the voting power of our outstanding shares and have considerable influence over matters requiring shareholder approval, including election of directors and significant corporate transactions, such as a merger or sale of our company or our assets. This concentrated control will limit your ability to influence corporate matters and could discourage others from pursuing any potential merger, takeover or other change of control transactions that holders of Class A common shares and ADSs may view as beneficial.

 

Our corporate actions are substantially controlled by our officers, directors and their affiliated entities.

 

As of April 30, 2014, our executive officers, directors and their affiliated entities beneficially own approximately 46.5% of our total outstanding shares, representing 82.8% of our total voting power. These shareholders, if they acted together, could exert substantial influence over matters requiring approval by our shareholders, including electing directors and approving mergers or other business combination transactions and they may not act in the best interests of other minority shareholders. This concentration of ownership may also discourage, delay or prevent a change in control of our company, which could deprive our shareholders of an opportunity to receive a premium for their shares as part of a sale of our company and might reduce the price of our ADSs. These actions may be taken even if they are opposed by our other shareholders.

 

If securities or industry analysts publish negative reports about our business, the price and trading volume of our securities could decline.

 

The trading market for our securities depends, in part, on the research reports and ratings that securities or industry analysts or ratings agencies publish about us, our business and the K-12 after-school tutoring market in China in general. We do not have any control over these analysts or agencies. If one or more of the analysts or agencies who cover us downgrades us or our securities, the price of our securities may decline. If one or more of these analysts cease coverage of our company or fail to regularly publish reports on us, we could lose visibility in the financial markets, which could cause the price of our securities or trading volume to decline.

 

Substantial future sales or the expectation of substantial sales of our ADSs in the public market could cause the price of our ADSs to decline.

 

Sales of our ADSs in the public market or the perception that these sales could occur may cause the market price of our ADSs to decline and could materially impair our ability to raise capital through equity offerings in the future. We have Class A and Class B common shares outstanding, including Class A common shares represented by ADSs. All of our ADSs are freely transferable without restriction or additional registration under the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act. Class A common shares not represented by ADS, such as grants of restricted Class A common shares which have vested, and Class B common shares are available for sale subject to volume and other restrictions as applicable under Rule 144 and Rule 701 under the Securities Act. To the extent shares are sold into the market, the market price of our ADSs could decline.

 

In addition, several of our shareholders have the right to cause us to register the sale of their shares under the Securities Act upon the occurrence of certain circumstances. Registration of these shares under the Securities Act would result in these shares becoming freely tradable without restriction under the Securities Act immediately upon the effectiveness of the registration of these shares. Sales of these registered shares in the public market could cause the price of our ADSs to decline.

 

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Our articles of association contain anti-takeover provisions that could discourage a third party from acquiring us, which could limit our shareholders’ opportunity to sell their shares, including Class A common shares represented by our ADSs, at a premium.

 

Our articles of association contain provisions that limit the ability of others to acquire control of our company or cause us to engage in change-of-control transactions. These provisions could have the effect of depriving our shareholders of an opportunity to sell their shares at a premium over prevailing market prices by discouraging third parties from seeking to obtain control of our company in a tender offer or similar transaction. For example, our board of directors has the authority, without further action by our shareholders, to issue preferred shares. These preferred shares may have better voting rights than our Class A common shares, in the form of ADSs or otherwise, and could be issued quickly with terms calculated to delay or prevent a change in control of our company or make removal of management more difficult. If our board of directors decides to issue preferred shares, the price of our ADSs may fall and the voting rights of the holders of our common shares and ADSs may be diluted.

 

Holders of ADSs have fewer rights than shareholders and must act through the depositary to exercise those rights.

 

Holders of ADSs do not have the same rights of our shareholders and may only exercise the voting rights with respect to the underlying Class A common shares in accordance with the provisions of the deposit agreement. Under our memorandum and articles of association, the minimum notice period required to convene a general meeting is ten days. When a general meeting is convened, you may not receive sufficient notice of a shareholders’ meeting to permit you to withdraw your common shares to allow you to cast your vote with respect to any specific matter. In addition, the depositary and its agents may not be able to send voting instructions to you or carry out your voting instructions in a timely manner. We will make all reasonable efforts to cause the depositary to extend voting rights to you in a timely manner, but we cannot assure you that you will receive the voting materials in time to ensure that you can instruct the depositary to vote your ADSs. Furthermore, the depositary and its agents will not be responsible for any failure to carry out any instructions to vote, for the manner in which any vote is cast or for the effect of any such vote. As a result, you may not be able to exercise your right to vote and you may lack recourse if your ADSs are not voted as you requested. In addition, in your capacity as an ADS holder, you will not be able to call a shareholders’ meeting.

 

You may not receive distributions on our common shares or any value for them if such distribution is illegal or if any required government approval cannot be obtained in order to make such distribution available to you.

 

The depositary of our ADSs has agreed to pay to you the cash dividends or other distributions it or the custodian receives on common shares or other deposited securities underlying our ADSs, after deducting its fees and expenses. You will receive these distributions in proportion to the number of Class A common shares your ADSs represent. However, the depositary is not responsible if it decides that it is unlawful, inequitable or impractical to make a distribution available to any holders of ADSs. For example, it would be unlawful to make a distribution to a holder of ADSs if it consists of securities that require registration under the Securities Act but that are not properly registered or distributed under an applicable exemption from registration. The depositary may also determine that it is not feasible to distribute certain property through the mail. Additionally, the value of certain distributions may be less than the cost of mailing them. In these cases, the depositary may determine not to distribute such property. We have no obligation to register under U.S. securities laws any ADSs, common shares, rights or other securities received through such distributions. We also have no obligation to take any other action to permit the distribution of ADSs, common shares, rights or anything else to holders of ADSs. This means that you may not receive distributions we make on our common shares or any value for them if it is illegal or impractical for us to make them available to you. These restrictions may cause a material decline in the value of our ADSs.

 

You may be subject to limitations on transfers of your ADSs.

 

Your ADSs are transferable on the books of the depositary. However, the depositary may close its transfer books at any time or from time to time when it deems expedient in connection with the performance of its duties. In addition, the depositary may refuse to deliver, transfer or register transfers of ADSs generally when our books or the books of the depositary are closed, or at any time if we or the depositary deem it advisable to do so because of any requirement of law or of any government or governmental body, or under any provision of the deposit agreement, or for any other reason.

 

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Your right to participate in any future rights offerings may be limited, which may cause dilution to your holdings.

 

We may from time to time distribute rights to our shareholders, including rights to acquire our securities. However, we cannot make rights available to you in the United States unless we register the rights and the securities to which the rights relate under the Securities Act or an exemption from the registration requirements is available. Also, under the deposit agreement, the depositary will not make rights available to you unless the distribution to ADS holders of both the rights and any related securities are either registered under the Securities Act, or exempted from registration under the Securities Act. We are under no obligation to file a registration statement with respect to any such rights or securities or to endeavor to cause such a registration statement to be declared effective. Moreover, we may not be able to establish an exemption from registration under the Securities Act. Accordingly, you may be unable to participate in our rights offerings and may experience dilution in your holdings.

 

We are a Cayman Islands company and, because judicial precedent regarding the rights of shareholders is more limited under Cayman Islands law than that under U.S. law, you may have less protection for your shareholder rights than you would under U.S. law.

 

Our corporate affairs are governed by our memorandum and articles of association, as amended and restated from time to time, the Cayman Islands Companies Law (as amended) and the common law of the Cayman Islands. The rights of shareholders to take action against the directors, actions by minority shareholders and the fiduciary responsibilities of our directors to us under Cayman Islands law are to a large extent governed by the common law of the Cayman Islands. The common law of the Cayman Islands is derived in part from comparatively limited judicial precedent in the Cayman Islands as well as that from English common law, which has persuasive, but not binding, authority on a court in the Cayman Islands. The rights of our shareholders and the fiduciary responsibilities of our directors under Cayman Islands law are not as clearly established as they would be under statutes or judicial precedent in some jurisdictions in the United States. In particular, the Cayman Islands has a less developed body of securities laws than the United States. In addition, some U.S. states, such as Delaware, have more fully developed and judicially interpreted bodies of corporate law than the Cayman Islands.

 

As a result of all of the above, public shareholders may have more difficulty in protecting their interests in the face of actions taken by management, members of the board of directors or controlling shareholders than they would as shareholders of a U.S. public company.

 

You may experience difficulties in effecting service of legal process, enforcing foreign judgments or bringing original actions in China against us or our management.

 

We are a Cayman Islands company and substantially all of our assets are located outside of the United States. All of our current operations are conducted in the PRC. In addition, most of our directors and officers are nationals and residents of the PRC. As a result, it may be difficult for you to effect service of process within the United States or elsewhere outside China upon these persons. It may also be difficult for you to enforce in U.S. courts judgments obtained in U.S. courts based on the civil liability provisions of the U.S. federal securities laws against us and our officers and directors, most of whom are not residents in the United States and the substantial majority of whose assets are located outside of the United States. In addition, there is uncertainty as to whether the courts of the Cayman Islands or the PRC would recognize or enforce judgments of U.S. courts against us or such persons predicated upon the civil liability provisions of the securities laws of the United States or any state and it is uncertain whether such Cayman Islands or PRC courts would be competent to hear original actions brought in the Cayman Islands or the PRC against us or such persons predicated upon the securities laws of the United States or any state. In addition, since we are incorporated under the laws of the Cayman Islands and our corporate affairs are governed by the laws of the Cayman Islands, it is difficult for you to bring an action against us based upon PRC laws in the event that you believe that your rights as a shareholder have been infringed.

 

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Item 4.           Information on the Company

 

A. History and Development of the Company

 

We started our operation in 2005 with the establishment of Xueersi Education, a domestic company in China. We then incorporated TAL Education Group to become our offshore holding company under the laws of the Cayman Islands on January 10, 2008, in order to facilitate foreign investment in our company. TAL Education Group established TAL Hong Kong in Hong Kong in March 2008 as our intermediary holding company. TAL Hong Kong subsequently established six wholly owned subsidiaries in China: TAL Beijing in May 2008, Huanqiu Zhikang in September 2009, Yidu Huida in November 2009, TAL Electronic Technology (Shanghai) Co., Ltd., or TAL Shanghai, in May 2012 but subsequently dissolved in February 2014, Beijing Xintang Sichuang Education Technology Co., Ltd. or Beijing Xintang Sichuang, in August 2012, and Zhixuesi Education Consulting (Beijing) Co., Ltd., or Zhixuesi Beijing, in October 2012. In February 2012, we acquired Yidu Technology Group, or Yidu Cayman, a company incorporated in the Cayman Islands, which then established a wholly owned subsidiary, Yidu Technology Group Limited, or Yidu Hong Kong, in Hong Kong in April 2012. In November 2012, Yidu Hong Kong established a wholly owned subsidiary, YiduXuedi Network Technology (Beijing) Co., Ltd., or Yidu Xuedi Beijing. In August 2013, we changed the name of TAL Education Technology (Beijing) Co., Ltd. to Beijing Century TAL Education Technology Co., Ltd., or TAL Beijing. In addition, we changed our umbrella brand from “Xueersi” to “Haoweilai”. However, we still use “Xueersi Peiyou” as the primary brand for our small classes and “Mobby” as our brand for tutoring services for young learners aged three through eight.

 

In February 2014, we acquired Kaoyan.com, which is a site designed to improve preparation for entrance examinations for postgraduate degrees. The acquisition was intended, along with our offerings of gaokao.com for college admissions examinations, zhongkao.com for high school admissions examinations, aoshu.com for mathematics training, zuowen.com for Chinese writing training and yingyu.com for English training, among our various other websites and domain names, to add to our suite of study tools for secondary and post-secondary admissions examinations and mathematics, Chinese and English skills. In January 2014, we made a minority equity investment of $23.5 million in BabyTree Inc., an operator of a leading online resource and community platform for prospective and new parents. This investment is intended to provide us insight into the market for early childhood development and learning and to complement and extend our existing online presence in the K-12 space. This investment will also provide us more information on the online pre-school space as we continue to expand our offerings in this market.

 

For information on our capital expenditures, see “Item 5.B.—Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—Liquidity and Capital Resources—Capital Expenditures.”

 

We completed an initial public offering of 13,800,000 ADSs in October 2010. On October 20, 2010, we listed our ADSs on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “XRS.”

 

Our principal executive offices are located at 12/F, Danling SOHO, No. 6 Danling Street, Haidian District, Beijing 100080, People’s Republic of China. Our telephone number at this address is +86 (10) 5292 6669. Our registered office in the Cayman Islands is located at Maples Corporate Services Limited, PO Box 309, Ugland House, Grand Cayman, KY1-1104, Cayman Islands. In addition, as of the date of this annual report, we have branch offices in 16 cities in China. Our agent for service of process in the United States in connection with our registration statement on Form F-1 for our initial public offering in October 2010 is Law Debenture Corporate Services Inc., located at 400 Madison Avenue, 4th Floor, New York, New York 10017.

 

B. Business Overview

 

Overview

 

We are a leading K-12 after-school tutoring services provider in China. We offer comprehensive tutoring services to K-12 students covering core academic subjects, including among others, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, history, geography, political science, English and Chinese, as well as, through our Mobby tutoring services, young learners tutoring services for students aged three through eight. We have successfully established “Xueersi” as a leading brand in China’s K-12 private education market closely associated with high teaching quality and academic excellence, as evidenced by our students’ academic performance, our ability to recruit students through word-of-mouth referrals and the numerous recognitions and awards we have received.

 

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We deliver our tutoring services primarily through small classes (including Xueersi Peiyou and Mobby tutoring services), personalized premium services and online course offerings. As of February 28, 2014, our extensive educational network consisted of 274 learning centers and 251 service centers in 16 cities throughout China, with most of these learning centers and service centers located in Beijing and Shanghai, as well as our online courses and online education platform. Our student enrollments increased from approximately 690,300 in the fiscal year ended February 29, 2012 to approximately 1,073,950 in the fiscal year ended February 28, 2014, representing a compound annual growth rate, or CAGR, of 24.7%.

 

We complement our organic technological development with strategic initiatives. In January 2014, we made a minority equity investment of $23.5 million in BabyTree Inc., an operator of a leading online resource and community platform for prospective and new parents. This investment is intended to provide us insight into the market for early childhood development and learning and to complement and extend our existing online presence in the K-12 space. This investment will also provide us with more information on the online pre-school space as we continue to expand our offerings in this market.

 

We have experienced strong growth since our initial public offering. Our total net revenues increased from $177.5 million in the fiscal year ended February 29, 2012 to $313.9 million in the fiscal year ended February 28, 2014, representing a CAGR of 33.0%. Our net income increased from $24.3 million in the fiscal year ended February 29, 2012 to $60.6 million in the fiscal year ended February 28, 2014, representing a CAGR of 57.9%.

 

We operate www.eduu.com, a leading online education platform in China. The website serves as a gateway to our online courses, primarily offered through our website www.xueersi.com, and other websites dedicated to specific topics, including college entrance examinations, high school entrance examinations, preschool education, personalized premium services, study abroad, mathematics, English, Chinese composition, small-class training under our “Xueersi Peiyou” brand, tutoring services for students aged three through eight under our “Mobby” brand, and raising infants and toddlers. We also offer select educational content through mobile applications. We are constantly working to expand our online offerings, with learning materials and services in varying stages of development. Our online platform enables us to continue to roll out and expand our online course offerings. Our online platform is protected by a combination of PRC laws and regulations that protect trademarks, copyrights, domain names, know-how and trade secrets, as well as confidentiality agreements.

 

Due to PRC legal restrictions on foreign ownership and investment in the education business in China, we operate our after-school tutoring service business primarily through our VIEs and their subsidiaries and schools in China. We do not hold equity interests in our VIEs; however, through a series of contractual arrangements with our VIEs and their respective shareholders, we effectively control and are able to derive substantially all of the economic benefits from our VIEs and their subsidiaries and schools.

 

Our Mission, Vision and Values

 

Our mission is to make learning more effective, efficient and fun. We believe learning should be an enjoyable experience for all of our students. Our vision is to integrate the latest technologies into the learning process and to continuously introduce innovative approaches to teaching and tutoring so as to garner the respect of parents and students alike. As an educational institution, we seek to attract the most talented workforce and create the most enjoyable classroom environments so we can best serve our teachers, staff members and students. Lastly, we believe values such as student satisfaction, responsibility, innovation, proactiveness, diligence and cooperation are critical to our success and we strive to promote and adhere to these values. For more information about our mission, vision and values, please visit our Group official website at http://www.100tal.com/gywm/aboutus.

 

Our Tutoring Services

 

We deliver our tutoring services to our students through small-class settings, personalized premium services and online course offerings.

 

In August 2013, we changed the name of TAL Education Technology (Beijing) Co., Ltd. to Beijing Century TAL Education Technology Co., Ltd., or TAL Beijing. In addition, we changed our umbrella brand from “Xueersi” to “Haoweilai”. However, we still use “Xueersi Peiyou” as the primary brand for our small classes and “Mobby” as our brand for young learners tutoring services, which are also conducted in small-class formats, for students aged three through eight.

 

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Xueersi Peiyou and Mobby small classes

 

We have been delivering courses in small-class settings since the inception of our company. Xueersi Peiyou small classes, which typically have a maximum of 15 to 35 students per class for different grade levels, remain our main form of service offering in terms of revenue and number of student enrollments. As of February 28, 2014, 180 of our 274 learning centers and 155 of our 251 service centers nationwide offer Xueersi Peiyou small classes. We have a wide range of sessions for different courses. A typical Xueersi Peiyou small-class course consists of 10 or 15 sessions during each spring and fall school semester and seven to 15 sessions during each summer and winter break. Currently, each Xueersi Peiyou small-class session typically lasts two to three hours with course fees ranging from RMB40 to RMB75 per hour.

 

We keep the size of our classes comparatively small so that students can receive more individual attention from teachers than what they would typically experience in a large class setting and are able to learn in an interactive group environment. We design curricula catering to our students’ different educational requirements and needs. Many of our classes for the same subject and grade level are offered at different levels of difficulty to better cater to the different needs of our students. For instance, we offer mathematics tutoring in the forms of basic classes, advanced classes, which are taught at a faster pace than basic classes, intensive classes, which are conducted at an even more accelerated pace, and specialized classes, which cater to the needs of advanced students and focus on specialized training for mathematics competitions. We periodically assess our students’ progress, and based on the results of such assessment, reassign students to different classes on an as-needed basis such that each student’s situation and needs are taken into consideration.

 

In March 2011, we began offering tutoring services to children, aged three to six years old, under our “Mobby” brand, and we have expanded our services to students up to the age of eight years old. These tutoring services are offered in small-class format of up to 12 children per class and focus primarily on mathematics for young learners. A typical Mobby course consists of 22 or 24 sessions taking place from the spring semester through the summer holiday or the fall semester through the winter holiday, or ten to 15 sessions during each school semester or summer or winter break. Currently, each session typically lasts one and a half hours, with course fees of RMB200 to RMB270 per session. As of February 28, 2014, four of our learning centers offered Mobby tutoring services.

 

To maximize transparency, improve learning experience and build trust with students and parents, we allow parents to audit most of the small classes their children attend, and for many of our Xueersi Peiyou small classes, also offer unconditional refunds for any remaining unattended classes net of the costs of materials if notified by the student or parent within the first two-thirds of each course.

 

In November 2010, we launched Intelligent Classroom System, or ICS, a proprietary classroom teaching solution used in small-class instruction. Through ICS, teachers at each of our learning centers are able to upload over the Internet all of our internally developed multi-media teaching content, including instructional videos and audio materials, and project this content onto white boards to make the instructional process more efficient and the learning experience more interactive and stimulating.

 

Personalized Premium Services

 

We began to offer personalized premium services in September 2007 under our “Zhikang” brand. As of February 28, 2014, our Zhikang network included 90 learning centers and 92 service centers in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Xi’an and Chengdu. We have a wide range of pricing for our one-on-one courses. Currently, the course fees for our personalized premium services typically range from RMB130 to RMB270 per 40 minutes.

 

Our personalized premium services provide customized curricula and course materials and flexible schedules to suit each student’s educational focus in a one-on-one student-teacher setting. We provide personalized premium services to cater to the specific requirements of our students, such as addressing weaknesses in particular subjects or topics, providing intensive examination or competition preparation and tailoring the pace of learning to accommodate above- or below-average learning curves.

 

Key features of our personalized premium services include:

 

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Customized tutoring solution. Each prospective student of our personalized premium services must meet with our course consultant and undergo a diagnostic assessment of the student’s strengths, weaknesses and potential. We then design and recommend a customized tutoring solution to the student in consultation with the student’s parents with respect to timing, cost and other considerations specific to the students’ circumstances. During the entire course of our personalized premium services for a student, we actively monitor the student’s progress and adjust the curriculum and learning pace for the student when necessary.

 

Tailor-made course materials. The course materials used in our personalized premium services are selected by subject teachers from our comprehensive course material database for the benefits of each student. We leverage our strong curriculum and course material development capability to provide high quality course materials to our students.

 

One-on-one student-teacher setting, supported by a team of experienced teachers. Each student in our personalized premium service has access to a large pool of experienced teachers. Teachers are chosen by students and their parents based on the interests and needs of each student. Each of our personalized premium tutoring sessions is conducted in a one-on-one student-teacher setting.

 

Personalized attention. We assign each student a coordinator, who routinely communicates with the student and the student’s parents to address their questions and concerns and to closely monitor the quality of our services. The coordinator also solicits monthly feedback from students and parents. We also accommodate any request by students or parents to change teachers to the extent practicable.

 

Online Courses

 

We began to offer online courses in January 2010 through www.xueersi.com. Through www.xueersi.com, we offer online courses on mathematics, English, Chinese, physics, chemistry, biology, and other subjects. Currently, the fees for online course available on www.xueersi.com range from RMB20 to RMB80 per 45 to 60 minutes. We also offer select online courses through other websites.

 

Online courses enable us to leverage our proprietary curricula and course materials and high quality teachers to target markets beyond the reach of our physical network. It also enables our students to access our courses through the Internet at times and places most convenient for them.

 

Key features of our online courses include:

 

High quality audio-video lectures. Our online courses mainly feature high quality audio-video lectures by experienced teachers. They are delivered through a multimedia web interface using streaming media and other technologies. The audio-video lectures are accompanied by high resolution animated slides to create a stimulating learning environment for our students.

 

Teachers with superior communication skills. We select lecturers for our online courses from among top teachers. We seek to engage teachers who have a strong command of the respective subject areas and superior communication skills. In particular, we seek teachers capable of, and preferably experienced in, delivering effective instructions through audio-video format. All teachers for online courses are required to undergo trial classes before recording their lectures.

 

Quality course-related support. Our online courses are supplemented by our proprietary course materials, online assignments, exercises, mock examinations and other forms of course-related support.

 

We plan to further develop our online course offerings to extend our market reach and maximize the potential of our services. In particular, we intend to expand our course offerings to include more subjects and grade levels.

 

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In February 2014, we acquired Kaoyan.com, which is a site designed to improve preparation for entrance examinations for postgraduate degrees. The acquisition was intended, along with our offerings of gaokao.com for college admissions examinations, zhongkao.com for high school admissions examinations, zuowen.com for Chinese writing training, aoshu.com for mathematics training, and yingyu.com for English training, to provide a complete suite of study tools for secondary and post-secondary admissions examinations and mathematics, Chinese and English skills. In January 2014, we made a minority equity investment of $23.5 million in BabyTree Inc., an operator of a leading online resource and community platform for prospective and new parents. This investment is intended to provide us insight into the market for early childhood development and learning and to complement and extend our existing online presence in the K-12 space. This investment will also provide us with more information on the online early childhood development space as we continue to expand our offerings in this market.

 

Student Services

 

We strive to provide a supportive learning environment to our students through our teachers, class coordinators, call centers and online platform.

 

Our teachers keep track of the students’ performance and progress and regularly communicate with the students and parents. Moreover, each of our students in the personalized premium services is assigned a class coordinator who is in close contact with the students and parents regarding scheduling and other logistical issues, receives feedback on teaching quality and arranges teacher replacements where necessary.

 

We have call centers in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, the main functions of which include receiving enquiries, accepting registrations, addressing course-related issues and facilitating communication with existing and prospective students for our center-based offerings and the parents of such students. In addition, we have a call center to regularly reach out to students of our online courses and keep track of their progress. As of February 28, 2014, we had approximately 170 operators at these call centers. All of our call centers are open during business hours, and our Beijing and Shanghai call centers also remain open until 9 pm and 9:30 pm in the evening, respectively.

 

In addition, the online platform, among other things, provides an efficient channel for students and parents to submit study questions to our subject experts.

 

Our Curricula and Course Materials

 

Curricula

 

The curricula for our K-12 tutoring services covers the core K-12 subjects and is described in more detail in the table below. We started our business by offering tutoring classes in mathematics and then gradually rolled out courses in other subjects over the past several years. In terms of grade levels, we initially focused on serving primary school students and over time expanded our course offerings into higher grade levels. The following table provides a list of our current K-12 course offerings:

 

 

 

Primary School

 

Middle School

 

High School

 

 

 

K

 

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

6

 

7

 

8

 

9

 

10

 

11

 

12

 

Mathematics

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

English

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

Chinese

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

Physics

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

Chemistry

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

Biology

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

History

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

Political Science

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

Geography

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

·

 

·

 

·

 

 


·                  Currently offered.

 

-                    Currently not offered.

 

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The history, political science and geography courses set forth in the table above are offered mainly through personalized premium tutoring services under our “Zhikang” brand. Net revenues related to these courses are not material.

 

The curricula for our Mobby tutoring services that we began in March 2011 focuses primarily on mathematics.

 

Curriculum and Course Material Development

 

Substantially all of our education content for our non-English subject areas is developed in-house. As of February 28, 2014, we had a team of over 100 full-time employees who are responsible for developing, updating and improving our curricula and course materials. In addition, approximately 280 full-time teachers are also engaged in the development of the curriculum and course material in addition to their classroom teaching commitments. The team is further divided based on subjects covered, with each subject team led by a director who has significant teaching experience in the subject. Our team works closely with experts in different subject fields to keep up with changing academic and examination requirements in China’s K-12 education system and solicits feedback from our teachers based on their classroom experience.

 

The development process of our curricula and course materials typically starts with reviewing and referencing recent teaching materials and teachers’ training materials from leading public schools as well as any new examination requirements to analyze the latest market trends and needs. Our development team is able to identify subjects and concepts that are difficult for students and focuses on the most important and difficult concepts and skills in the curricula. To address different educational requirements and needs of our students at each grade level, we have also developed curricula and course materials tailored for classes of different difficulty levels based on that group of students’ learning curves as well as their strengths and weaknesses. We evaluate, update and improve course materials based upon usage rate, feedback from teachers, students and parents as well as student performance.

 

Most of our curricula and course materials are developed at our corporate level in Beijing and adopted by other locations with modifications to meet local requirements and demands. We have modularized a portion of our course materials based on specific topics so that centrally developed content can be more easily adopted locally and make our services more scalable, and we are in the process of modularizing other portions of our course materials. In addition, we have signed two agreements with McGraw-Hill Education whereby we have cooperated to co-develop and co-brand two sets of English language educational materials for small classes. In 2012, McGraw-Hill Education and our company completed the development of these two sets of materials. On March 19, 2014, we, through our “Lejiale” brand which offers English subject tutoring services, collaborated closely with Cambridge University Press, and together, launched a series of English learning materials called “Hello Learner’s English.” The Hello Learner’s English series of learning materials is tailored specifically for Chinese students, from grades one through six, and introduces new learning patterns for students to advance their English speaking, listening, reading and writing abilities, preparing students for their future secondary school or college English entrance examinations. It represents Cambridge University Press’ first publication of English multilevel textbooks in a non-English speaking country.

 

Our Teachers

 

Our teaching staff is critical to maintaining the quality of our services and to promoting our brand and reputation. We have a team of dedicated and highly qualified teachers with a strong passion for education, whom we believe are essential to our success. We are committed to maintaining consistent and high teaching quality across our business. This commitment is reflected in our highly selective teacher hiring process, our emphasis on continued teacher training and rigorous evaluation, competitive performance-based compensation and opportunities for career advancement. We had 2,451, 2,787 and 3,364 full-time teachers and 1,455, 1,263 and 1,282 contract teachers as of February 29, 2012, February 28, 2013 and February 28, 2014, respectively. We have moved to greater numbers of full-time teachers over time in order to establish stronger ties with our key teaching staff and draw upon their experience to support our content development, marketing and other management efforts.

 

We recruit teachers from Chinese university graduates, including many top-tier universities in China, as well as experienced teachers with a solid track record and strong reputation from other schools. Each of our newly hired full-time teachers is required to undergo certain standard and customized trainings that focus on education content, teaching skills and techniques as well as our corporate culture and values. In addition, our teachers are regularly evaluated for their classroom performance and teaching results. Our teachers’ retention, compensation and promotion are to a large extent based on the results of such evaluations. The evaluation process is highly rigorous and, for our small-class business, it is based mainly on four factors: student retention rate, refund rate, class fulfillment rate and student and parent satisfaction rate.

 

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We offer our teachers competitive and performance-based compensation packages and provide them with prospects of career advancement within the company. Our best teachers may be promoted to become directors of our operations in new geographic markets outside Beijing, invited to participate in our educational content development effort and even considered for senior management positions.

 

In an effort to maintain a uniform standard of teaching quality and consistent company culture as we expand, we typically select the Xueersi Peiyou school head for a new city we may enter from a pool of our top Xueersi Peiyou small-class teachers in Beijing and other more mature cities who have demonstrated management talent. We require managers for new schools to participate in training sessions at our Beijing headquarters, which are designed to share best practices and disseminate policies, guidelines and standards to each of our locations.

 

Our Network

 

As of February 28, 2014, our extensive network consisted of 274 learning centers and 251 service centers in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Wuhan, Xi’an, Chengdu, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Taiyuan, Zhengzhou, Chongqing, Suzhou, Shenyang and Jinan, call centers in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, as well as our online platform. Our learning centers are physical locations where classes are conducted. Our service centers offer consultation, course selection, registration and other services, most of which are also provided by our call centers. As of the date of this annual report, we are in the process of registering our Jinan entity with the relevant PRC government authorities.

 

The following table sets forth the number of learning centers and service centers in each of the 16 cities in our physical network as of February 28, 2014.

 

City

 

Number of Learning Centers

 

Number of Service Centers

 

Beijing

 

122

 

113

 

Shanghai

 

37

 

31

 

Guangzhou

 

19

 

16

 

Tianjin

 

16

 

15

 

Shenzhen

 

14

 

13

 

Wuhan

 

12

 

12

 

Chengdu

 

9

 

8

 

Nanjing

 

10

 

10

 

Xi’an

 

14

 

13

 

Hangzhou

 

7

 

6

 

Taiyuan

 

2

 

2

 

Chongqing

 

3

 

3

 

Suzhou

 

2

 

2

 

Zhengzhou

 

4

 

4

 

Shenyang

 

2

 

2

 

Jinan

 

1

 

1

 

 

We intend to open new learning and service centers both in our existing and newly identified geographic markets to capitalize on growth opportunities. We have adopted a systematic approach to expansion of our learning centers and geographic markets. The decision on whether to enter a new city is typically made at the corporate business unit level and involves a well-established process requiring participation by different levels of management personnel within our organizational structure. Our process in identifying a new market involves developing plans for promoting our brand locally, recruiting teachers and other staff and commencing course offerings with an initial focus on certain core subjects and grades. In then selecting the locations for new learning centers, we perform studies of each location by gathering education statistics, demographic data, public transportation information and other data.

 

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We operate www.eduu.com, a leading online education platform in China. The website serves as a gateway to our online courses, primarily offered through our website www.xueersi.com, and other websites dedicated to specific topics, including college entrance examinations, high school entrance examinations, preschool education, personalized premium services, study abroad, mathematics, English, Chinese composition, small-class training under our “Xueersi Peiyou” brand, tutoring services for students aged three through eight under our “Mobby” brand, and raising infants and toddlers. We also offer select educational content through mobile applications.

 

Marketing and Student Recruitment

 

We recruit students for our small-class business primarily through word-of-mouth referrals. Our reputation and brand have also greatly facilitated our student recruitment. Moreover, we engage in a range of marketing activities to enhance our brand recognition among prospective students and their parents, generate interest in our service offerings and further stimulate referrals. In the fiscal years ended February 29, 2012, February 28, 2013 and February 28, 2014, our selling and marketing expenses were $23.2 million, $27.7 million and $35.8 million, respectively, accounting for 13.0%, 12.2% and 11.4% of our total net revenues, respectively.

 

Referrals

 

We believe the single greatest contributor to our success in small-class student recruitment has been word-of-mouth referrals by our students and their parents who share their learning experiences with others. Our recruitment through word-of-mouth referrals has enjoyed a strong network effect with the rapid growth in our student base, and benefits from our reputation, brand and the performance track record of our students.

 

Online Platform

 

Our online platform is an important component of our marketing and branding efforts. It also facilitates direct and frequent communications with and among our prospective students as well as our existing students and parents, supporting our overall sales and marketing efforts.

 

Public Lectures, Seminars, Diagnostic Sessions and Media Interviews

 

We frequently offer free public lectures, seminars and diagnostic sessions to students and parents as a way of providing useful information to our prospective students and relevant experience for them to evaluate our offerings. In addition, our approach to teaching quality and the track record of our student performance has been covered by traditional and new media, which we believe has further enhanced our reputation and brand.

 

Advertisement and Others

 

We advertise through leading search engines in China and our cooperative relationships with other education websites targeting Chinese students. We also have advertising arrangements with well-known newspapers in Beijing and use other advertising channels such as outdoor advertising campaigns. In addition, we distribute marketing materials such as brochures, posters and flyers to current and prospective students and their parents in our learning centers, service centers and outside public school campuses. We also participate in various education services and products exhibitions and conventions.

 

Competition

 

The after-school tutoring service sector in China is rapidly evolving, highly fragmented and competitive. We face competition in each type of service we offer and each geographic market in which we operate. Our competitors at the national level include New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. and Xueda Education Group.

 

We believe the principal competitive factors in our business include the following:

 

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·                  brand;

 

·                  student achievements;

 

·                  price-to-value;

 

·                  type and quality of tutoring services offered; and

 

·                  ability to effectively tailor service offerings to the needs of students, parents and educators.

 

We believe that we compete favorably with our competitors on the basis of the above factors. However, some of our competitors may have more resources than we do, and may be able to devote greater resources than we can to expand their business and market shares. See “Item 3.D.—Key Information—Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business—We face significant competition, and if we fail to compete effectively, we may lose our market share and our profitability may be adversely affected.”

 

Intellectual Property

 

Our brands, trademarks, service marks, copyrights and other intellectual property rights distinguish and protect our course offerings and services from infringement, and contribute to our competitive advantages in the after-school tutoring service sector in China. Our intellectual property rights include the following:

 

·                  81 trademark registrations for our brand and logo in China and Hong Kong;

 

·                  domain names;

 

·                  copyrights to substantially all of the course content we developed in house, including all of our online courses; and

 

·                  copyright registration certificates for 90 software programs developed by us relating to different aspects of our operations.

 

In particular, among the domain names we have registered, several are highly valued and unique online assets as the domain name incorporates the Chinese spelling of the theme of the corresponding website, and is therefore easy to remember. Our domain names include the following:

 

Website Domain Name

 

Topic

www.eduu.com

 

Our main webpage which has links to the websites listed below

www.xueersi.com

 

Online courses

www.gaokao.com

 

College entrance examinations

www.zhongkao.com

 

High school entrance examinations

www.jiajiaoban.com

 

Personalized premium services

www.aoshu.com

 

Mathematics for primary and middle schools; specialized training for competition mathematics

www.yingyu.com

 

English language

www.zuowen.com

 

Chinese composition

www.youjiao.com

 

Preschool and kindergarten education

www.liuxue.com

 

Study abroad

www.speiyou.com

 

Small-class training under our Xueersi Peiyou brand

www.mobby.cn

 

Tutoring services for students aged three through eight under our Mobby brand

www.yuer.com

 

Raising infants and toddlers

www.kaoyan.com

 

Post-graduate degree entrance examination

 

To protect our brand and other intellectual property, we rely on a combination of trademark, copyright, domain names, know-how and trade secret laws as well as confidentiality agreements with our employees, contractors and others. We cannot be certain that our efforts to protect our intellectual property rights will be adequate or that third parties will not infringe or misappropriate these rights. See “Item 3.D.—Key Information—Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business—If we fail to protect our intellectual property rights, our brand and business may suffer.”

 

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Insurance

 

We maintain various insurance policies covering all of our leased facilities and all of our office space to safeguard against risks and unexpected events, including accidents that may occur at the place where we conduct our operations. We have purchased limited liability insurance for our students and their parents covering all of our learning centers in all cities with maximum claim amount of RMB0.45 million per person. We do not maintain business disruption insurance, product liability insurance or key-man life insurance. We consider our insurance coverage to be in line with that of other private education providers of a similar size in China.

 

Legal Proceedings

 

From time to time, we may be subject to various legal proceedings, investigations and claims arising in the ordinary course of business. We are not currently involved in any material litigation, arbitration or administrative proceedings that could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition or results of operations, and we are not aware of any material legal or administrative proceedings threatened against us.

 

PRC Regulation

 

This section summarizes the principal PRC regulations relating to our businesses.

 

We operate our business in China under a legal regime consisting of the National People’s Congress, which is the country’s highest legislative body, the State Council, which is the highest authority of the executive branch of the PRC central government, and several ministries and agencies under its authority, including the Ministry of Education, the General Administration of Press and Publication, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, the Ministry of Civil Affairs and their respective local offices.

 

Regulations on Private Education

 

The principal laws and regulations governing private education in China consist of the Education Law of the PRC, The Law for Promoting Private Education and The Implementation Rules for the Law for Promoting Private Education, and the Regulations on Chinese-Foreign Cooperation in Operating Schools. Below is a summary of relevant provisions of these regulations.

 

Education Law of the PRC

 

On March 18, 1995, the National People’s Congress enacted the Education Law of the PRC. The Education Law sets forth provisions relating to the fundamental education systems of the PRC, including a school system of preschool education, primary education, secondary education (including middle and high schools) and higher education, a system of nine-year compulsory education and a system of education certificates. The Education Law stipulates that the government formulates plans for the development of education, and establishes and operates schools and other institutions of education. Under the Education Law, enterprises, social organizations and individuals are in principle encouraged to operate schools and other types of educational organizations in accordance with PRC laws and regulations. Meanwhile, no organization or individual may establish or operate a school or any other institution of education for profit-making purposes. However, private schools may be operated for “reasonable returns,” as described in more detail below.

 

The Law for Promoting Private Education and the Implementation Rules for the Law for Promoting Private Education

 

The Law for Promoting Private Education became effective on September 1, 2003 and was amended on June 29, 2013. The Implementation Rules for the Law for Promoting Private Education became effective on April 1, 2004. Under these regulations, “private schools” are defined as schools established by non-governmental organizations or individuals using non-government funds. In addition, under the regulations, private schools providing certifications, pre-school education, self-study aid and other academic education are subject to approval by the education authorities, while private schools engaging in occupational qualification training and occupational skill training are subject to approval by the authorities in charge of labor and social welfare. A duly approved private school will be granted a private school operating permit, and shall be registered with the Ministry of Civil Affairs or its local bureaus as a privately run non-enterprise institution. In addition, learning centers of schools must make filings with the Ministry of Education or its local bureaus. Our 30 affiliated schools have all obtained and maintained their respective private school operating permits.

 

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Under the above regulations, private schools have the same status as public schools, though private schools are prohibited from providing military, police, political and other kinds of education that are of a special nature. Government-run schools that provide compulsory education are not permitted to be converted into private schools. In addition, operation of a private school is highly regulated. For example, the types and amounts of fees charged by a private school providing certifications shall be approved by the pricing authority and be publicly disclosed. A private school that does not provide certifications shall file its pricing information with the pricing authority and publicly disclose such information. We do not offer any degree or certification course and thus we shall file our pricing information with the relevant pricing authorities in the school districts where we have operations. We disclose all our pricing information for all our services to the public.

 

Private education is treated as a public welfare undertaking under the regulations. Nonetheless, investors of a private school may choose to require “reasonable returns” from the annual net balance of the school net of costs, donations received, government subsidies, if any, the reserved development fund and other expenses as required by the regulations. Private schools fall into three categories, including private schools established with donated funds, private schools that require reasonable returns and private schools that do not require reasonable returns.

 

The election to establish a private school requiring reasonable returns shall be provided in the articles of association of the school. The percentage of the school’s annual net income that can be distributed as reasonable return shall be determined by the school’s board of directors, taking into consideration the following factors: (i) school fee types and collection criteria, (ii) the ratio of the school’s expenses in connection with educational activities and improvement of educational conditions to the total fees collected; and (iii) the admission standards and educational quality. The relevant information relating to the above factors shall be publicly disclosed before the school’s board may determine the percentage of the school’s annual net income to be distributed as reasonable returns. Such information and the decision to distribute reasonable returns shall also be filed with the relevant government authorities within 15 days of the board decision. However, none of the current PRC laws and regulations provides any specific formula or guideline for determining “reasonable returns.” In addition, none of the current PRC laws and regulations sets forth clear requirements or restrictions on a private school’s ability to operate its education business as a school that requires reasonable returns or as a school that does not require reasonable returns.

 

At the end of each fiscal year, every private school is required to allocate a certain amount to its development fund for the construction or maintenance of school facilities or procurement or upgrade of educational equipment. In the case of a private school that requires reasonable returns, this amount shall be no less than 25% of the annual net income of the school, while in the case of a private school that does not require reasonable returns, this amount shall be equal to no less than 25% of the annual increase in the net assets of the school, if any. Private schools that do not require reasonable returns shall be entitled to the same preferential tax treatment as public schools, while the preferential tax treatment policies applicable to private schools requiring reasonable returns shall be formulated by the finance authority, taxation authority and other authorities under the State Council. To date, however, no regulations have been promulgated by the relevant authorities in this regard. As of the date of this annual report, among our 30 affiliated schools, 11 have elected not to require reasonable returns and the remaining 19 have elected to require reasonable returns. Because no preferential tax policies have been promulgated by the relevant authorities, none of our 30 affiliated schools enjoys any preferential tax treatments pursuant to the requirements of local governmental authorities. All of them have allocated certain amounts to their development funds in compliance with the aforesaid provisions.

 

Sponsorship of Private Schools

 

Under the Law for Promoting Private Education and the Implementation Rules for Promoting Private Education, entities and individuals that establish private schools are referred to as “sponsors.” As of the date of this annual report, Xueersi Education and Xueersi Network or their subsidiaries were the sponsors of our 30 schools.

 

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The “sponsorship interest” that a sponsor holds in a private school is, for all practical purposes, substantially equivalent under PRC law and practice to the “equity interest” a shareholder holds in a company. Pursuant to the Implementation Rules for Promoting Private Education, a sponsor of a private school has the obligation to make capital contributions to the school in a timely manner. The contributed capital can be in the form of tangible or non-tangible assets such as materials in kind, land use rights or intellectual property rights. Pursuant to the Law for Promoting Private Education, the capital contributed by the sponsor becomes assets of the school and the school has independent legal person status. In addition, pursuant to the Law for Promoting Private Education and the Implementation Rules for Promoting Private Education, the sponsor of a private school has the right to exercise ultimate control over the school by becoming the member of and controlling the composition of the school’s decision making body. Specifically, the sponsor has control over the private school’s constitutional documents and has the right to elect and replace the private school’s decision making bodies, such as the school’s board of directors, and therefore controls the private school’s business and affairs.

 

Before the Law for Promoting Private Education took effect in 2003, the Regulations on Schools Run by Different Sectors of Society had provided that upon liquidation, the residual assets of a private school after the original investment had been returned to the sponsor would be used by the relevant PRC government for the development of private education. However, this is no longer the case, as Article 68 of the Law for Promoting Private Education expressly abolished the Regulations on Schools Run by Different Sectors of Society.

 

We are not aware of any PRC law which provides that upon liquidation of a private school, the sponsor is legally restricted to receive only its invested capital and is not allowed to receive other returns. According to our PRC counsel, there is no national law that addresses this subject one way or the other. In the absence of a national law providing for the sponsor’s rights upon liquidation of a private school, provincial regulations and interpretations are ambiguous and inconsistent on this subject. There are local regulations or interpretations that specifically provide that sponsors are entitled to private schools’ residual assets pro rata based on their respective capital contribution. Nevertheless, there are also local regulations that are less clear in this regard.

 

Notwithstanding the legal uncertainties surrounding this issue, we believe that the potential risk that we will not receive all of the residual assets upon the liquidation of a school is immaterial. There were no capital contributions made by any PRC governmental authorities to our schools, nor did any of our schools ever receive donations from any third parties, including PRC governmental authorities or any third party enterprises. Since the Law for Promoting Private Education became effective on September 1, 2003, neither we nor our PRC counsel have been aware of any case in China where a private school which has been solely funded by private sponsors without any government or donated funds became state property or was otherwise appropriated by a government authority upon liquidation without the prior consent of its sponsor. We historically have never liquidated any school that was profitable and we have no plans to so in the future. If, for any reason, we would like to divest a profitable school, a commercially sensible way to do so is to sell, rather than liquidate, the school. When selling a school, the sponsor is entitled to receive consideration for transferring sponsorship, which often exceeds its initial investment in the school.

 

Regulations on Chinese-Foreign Cooperation in Operating Schools

 

Chinese-foreign cooperation in operating schools or training courses is specifically governed by the Regulations on Chinese—Foreign Cooperation in Operating Schools, promulgated by the State Council in 2003 in accordance with the Education Law, the Occupational Education Law and the Law for Promoting Private Education, and the Implementing Rules for the Regulations on Chinese—Foreign Cooperation in Operating Schools, or the Implementing Rules, which were issued by the Ministry of Education in 2004.

 

The Regulations on Chinese—Foreign Cooperation in Operating Schools and its Implementing Rules encourage substantive cooperation between overseas educational organizations with relevant qualifications and experience in providing high-quality education and Chinese educational organizations to jointly operate various types of schools in the PRC. Cooperation in the areas of higher education and occupational education is especially encouraged. Chinese-foreign cooperative schools are not permitted, however, to engage in compulsory education or military, police, political and other kinds of education that are of a special nature in the PRC.

 

Permits for schools jointly operated by Chinese and foreign entities shall be obtained from the relevant education authorities or the authorities that regulate labor and social welfare in the PRC. We are not required to apply for such permits as all of our schools are operated by Xueersi Education, Xueersi Network or their respective subsidiaries, which are Chinese entities.

 

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Outline of China’s National Plan for Medium- and Long-Term Education Reform and Development (2010-2020)

 

On July 29, 2010, the PRC central government promulgated the Outline of China’s National Plan for Medium- and Long-Term Education Reform and Development (2010-2020), which for the first time announced the policy that the government will implement a reform to divide private education entities into two categories: (1) for-profit private education entities and (2) not-for-profit private education entities. On October 24, 2010, the General Office of the State Council issued the Notices on the National Education System Innovation Pilot. Under this notice, the PRC government plans to implement a for-profit and non- profit classified management system for the private schools in Shanghai, Zhejiang, Shenzhen and Jilin Huaqiao Foreign Language School. However, the above outline and the innovation pilot is still new and no additional national law or regulation has been promulgated to implement them and, except in Shanghai, no other local government of the pilot areas has promulgated relevant regulations on differentiated management of the private schools. If, upon the implementation of the above reform, our schools choose to be for-profit private education entities, they may be subject to all the taxes that are applicable to enterprises as if they were enterprises; if our schools choose to be not-for-profit private education entities, our contractual arrangements with our VIEs and their respective schools and subsidiaries may be subject to more stringent scrutiny and the education authorities may not allow our schools to pay us services fees under the contractual arrangements as they currently do. As a result, the implementation of this reform may adversely affect our results of operations.

 

On June 18, 2012, the MOE issued the Implementation Opinions of the MOE on Encouraging and Guiding the Entry of Private Capital in the Fields of Education and Promoting the Healthy Development of Private Education to encourage private investment and foreign investment in the field of education. According to these opinions, the proportion of foreign capital in a Chinese-foreign education institute shall be less than 50%. These opinions currently do not apply to our schools because we currently do not have Chinese-foreign education institutes.

 

Regulations on Online and Distance Education

 

Pursuant to the Administrative Regulations on Educational Websites and Online and Distance Education Schools issued by the Ministry of Education in 2000, educational websites and online education schools may provide education services in relation to higher education, secondary education, primary education, preschool education, education for teachers, occupational education, adult education, other education and public educational information services. “Educational websites” refer to organizations providing education or education-related information services to website visitors by means of a database or online education platform connected via the Internet or an educational television station through an Internet service provider, or ISP. “Online education schools” refer to education websites providing academic education services or training services that issue education certificates.

 

Based on the above regulations issued by the MOE, setting up educational websites and online education schools is subject to approval from relevant education authorities, depending on the specific type of education provided. Any education website and online education school shall, upon receipt of the approval, indicate on its website such approval information as well as the approval date and file number.

 

However, according to the Administrative License Law promulgated by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, or NPC, on August 27, 2003, which became effective on July 1, 2004, only laws promulgated by NPC and regulations and decisions promulgated by the State Council may eliminate the requirement for any administrative license. Furthermore, according to a regulation promulgated by the State Council on June 29, 2004, and later amended on January 29, 2009, operators of “online education schools” must obtain approval from the government, while no approval is required to operate “educational websites.” Xueersi Education and Xueersi Network, our VIEs engaging in online education-related services, are not required to obtain a license to operate “online education schools” as they do not offer government accredited degrees or certifications through their tutoring services. As a result and in accordance with the laws and regulations promulgated by NPC and the State Council, they are not required to obtain approval to operate “educational websites” from the MOE.

 

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Regulations on Publishing and Distribution of Publications

 

On December 25, 2001, the State Council promulgated the Administrative Regulations on Publication, or the Publication Regulations, which became effective on February 1, 2002, and which was later amended on March 19, 2011. The Publication Regulations apply to publication activities, i.e., the publishing, printing, copying, importation or distribution of publications, including books, newspapers, periodicals, audio and video products and electronic publications, each of which requires approval from the relevant publication administrative authorities.

 

On April 13, 2005, the State Council announced a policy on private investments in China relating to cultural matters, which affects private investments in businesses that involve publishing. The policy authorizes the Ministry of Culture and several other central government authorities to adopt detailed rules to implement the policy. In July 2005, the Ministry of Culture, together with other central government authorities, issued a regulation that prohibits private and foreign investors from engaging in the publishing business. Our subsidiaries and Consolidated Affiliated Entities are not permitted to engage in the publishing business under this regulation.

 

Subsequent to the implementation of the Publication Regulations, the General Administration of Press and Publication issued the Administrative Regulations on Publications Market, which became effective on September 1, 2003 and which was amended on June 16, 2004. According to the Administrative Regulations on Publications Market, any organization or individual engaged in general wholesale or retail distribution of publications shall obtain a Permit for Operating Publications Business. Distribution of publications in the PRC is regulated on different administrative levels. An entity engaged in general distribution of publications shall obtain such permit from the General Administration of Press and Publication and may conduct general distribution of the publications in the PRC. An entity engaged in wholesaling of publications shall obtain such permit from the provincial office of the General Administration of Press and Publication and may not engage in general distribution in the PRC. An entity engaged in retail distribution of publications shall obtain such permit from the local office of the Administration of Press and Publication and may not conduct general distribution or wholesaling of publications in the PRC.

 

In addition, pursuant to the Administrative Regulations on Publishing Audio-Video Products promulgated by the State Council on December 25, 2001, which became effective as of February 1, 2002, any entity engaged in the wholesale or retail distribution of audio-video products shall secure a Permit for Publishing Audio-Video Products from the relevant culture authorities.

 

During the term of the above-mentioned permits, the General Administration of Press and Publication or its local bureaus or other competent authorities may conduct annual or spot examinations or inspections to ascertain their compliance with applicable regulations and may require changes in or renewal of such permits.

 

The Administrative Regulations on Publishing Audio-Video Products was later amended on March 19, 2011, pursuant to which the Permit for Operating Audio-Video Products is replaced by the Permit for Operating Publications Business. In addition, the General Administration of Press and Publication and the Ministry of Commerce jointly issued the Administrative Regulations on Publication Market, which became effective on March 25, 2011, and was subsequently amended on July 13, 2013 and December 7, 2013, or the New Administrative Regulations on Publication Market. According to the New Administrative Regulations on Publication Market, the distribution of publications is still subject to the same license system provided in the Administrative Regulations on Publication Market, except that the scope of publications is widened to include audio and video products. Upon the effectiveness of the New Administrative Regulations on Publication Market, the Administrative Regulations on Publication Market ceased to be effective, and entities or individuals engaging in distribution of publications, including audio-video products, shall only need to hold a Permit for Operating Publications Business, while a Permit for Publishing Audio-Video Products shall no longer be needed.

 

Xueersi Education and Xueersi Network, our VIEs engaging in retailing teaching materials and audio-video products to our students, have obtained the Permit for Operating Publications Business for retail services.

 

Decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on Major Issues Concerning Comprehensively Deepening Reforms

 

The Decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on Major Issues Concerning Comprehensively Deepening Reforms, which was adopted at the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on November 12, 2013 will further open and liberalize certain investment access. The finance, education, culture and medical sectors will enjoy an orderly opening-up to market access and the government will encourage non-state capital to invest in the education sector.

 

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Regulations on Internet Information Services

 

Subsequent to the State Council’s promulgation of the Telecom Regulations and the Internet Information Services Administrative Measures on September 25, 2000, or the Internet Information Measures, the Ministry of Information Industry and other regulatory authorities formulated and implemented a number of Internet-related regulations, including but not limited to the Internet Electronic Bulletin Board Service Administrative Measures, or the BBS Measures.

 

The Internet Information Measures require that commercial Internet content providers, or ICP providers, obtain a license for Internet information services, or ICP license, from the appropriate telecommunications authorities in order to offer any commercial Internet information services in the PRC. ICP providers shall display their ICP license number in a conspicuous location on their home page. In addition, the Internet Information Measures also provide that ICP providers that operate in sensitive and strategic sectors, including news, publishing, education, health care, medicine and medical devices, must obtain additional approvals from the relevant authorities regulating those sectors as well. The BBS Measures provide that any ICP provider engaged in providing online bulletin board services, or BBS, is subject to a special approval and filing requirement with the relevant telecommunications industry authorities.

 

In July 2006, the MII posted a notice on its website entitled “Notice on Strengthening Management of Foreign Investment in Operating Value-Added Telecom Services.” The notice prohibits PRC Internet content providers from leasing, transferring or selling their ICP licenses or providing facilities or other resources to any illegal foreign investors. The notice states that PRC Internet content providers should directly own the trademarks and domain names for websites operated by them, as well as servers and other infrastructure used to support these websites. The notice also states that PRC Internet content providers have until November 1, 2006 to evaluate their compliance with the notice and correct any non-compliance. A PRC Internet content provider’s failure to do so by November 1, 2006 may result in revocation of its ICP license.

 

Xueersi Education and Xueersi Network, which engage in providing Internet information services and providing online bulletin board services, respectively, have each obtained an ICP license from the Beijing bureau of MII.

 

Regulations on Broadcasting Audio-Video Programs through the Internet or Other Information Network

 

The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, or SARFT, promulgated the Rules for Administration of Broadcasting of Audio-Video Programs through the Internet and Other Information Networks, or the Broadcasting Rules, in 2004, which became effective on October 11, 2004. The Broadcasting Rules apply to the activities of broadcasting, integration, transmission, downloading of audio-video programs with computers, televisions or mobile phones as main terminals and through various types of information networks. Pursuant to the Broadcasting Rules, a Permit for Broadcasting Audio-Video Programs via Information Network is required for engaging in Internet broadcasting activities. On April 13, 2005, the State Council announced a policy on private investments in businesses in China that relate to cultural matters, which prohibits private investments in businesses relating to the dissemination of audio-video programs through information networks.

 

On December 20, 2007, SARFT and MII issued the Internet Audio-Video Program Measures, which became effective on January 31, 2008. Among other things, the Internet Audio-Video Program Measures stipulate that no entities or individuals may provide Internet audio-video program services without a License for Disseminating Audio-Video Programs through Information Network issued by SARFT or its local bureaus or completing the relevant registration with SARFT or its local bureaus and only entities wholly owned or controlled by the PRC government may engage in the production, editing, integration or consolidation, and transmission to the public through the Internet, of audio-video programs, and the provision of audio-video program uploading and transmission services. There are significant uncertainties relating to the interpretation and implementation of the Internet Audio-Video Program Measures, in particular, the scope of “Internet Audio-Video Programs.” However, on April 1, 2010, SARFT promulgated the Tentative Categories of Internet Audio-Visual Program Service, or the Categories, which clarified the scope of Internet Audio-Video Programs. According to the Categories, there are four categories of Internet audio-visual program service which in turn are divided into seventeen sub-categories. The third sub-category of the second category covers the making and broadcasting of certain specialized audio-visual programs concerning art, culture, technology, entertainment, finance, sports, and education.

 

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In the fiscal year ended February 28, 2014, 3.0% of our total net revenues were derived from audio-video program services offered through www.xueersi.com that may be subject to the Audio-Video Program Measures. In the course of offering online tutoring services through www.xueersi.com, we transmit our audio-video educational courses and programs through the Internet only to enrolled course participants, not to the general public. The limited scope of our audience distinguishes us from general online audio-video broadcasting companies, such as companies operating user-generated content websites. In addition, we do not provide audio-video program uploading and transmission services. As a result, we believe that we are not subject to the Internet Audio-Video Program Measures. However, there is no further official or publicly available interpretation of these definitions, especially the scope of “Internet audio-video program service.” If the governmental authorities determine that our provision of online tutoring services falls within the Internet Audio-Video Program Measures, we may not be able to obtain the License for Disseminating Audio-Video Programs through Information Network. If this occurs, we may become subject to significant penalties, fines, legal sanctions or an order to suspend our use of audio-video content.

 

Regulations on Television Program Industry

 

Television program productions and distribution businesses are mainly regulated by the Administrative Regulations on Radio and Television which became effective on September 1, 1999, the Administrative Regulations on the Production and Operation of Radio and Television Program which became effective on August 20, 2004, and the Administrative Regulations on the Content of Television Plays which became effective on July 1, 2010. Pursuant to these regulations, television programs can only be produced by television stations at the municipal level or above or entities with either a Film Production License or a License for the Production and Operation of Radio and Television Program.

 

Pursuant to the SARFT circular on the Implementation of Licensing System for the Distribution of Domestically Produced TV Animation Movies which was issued on January 7, 2005 and became effective as of January 20, 2005, a licensing system was introduced since January 20, 2005 for the distribution of domestically produced TV animation movies. The Permit for Public Projection of Film or the Permit for Distribution of Domestically Produced TV Animation Movies must be obtained for broadcasting any domestically produced TV animation movie from SARFT, before a TV animation movie could be broadcasted through television channels.

 

Xueersi Education and Xueersi Network, which have recently started to carry out producing TV animation movies, have each obtained the License for the Production and Operation of Radio and Television Program from the Beijing bureau of SARFT, and we have obtained the Permit for Distribution of Domestically Produced TV Animation Movies for our TV animation movie Mobby’s Legend.

 

Regulations on Protection of the Right of Dissemination through Information Networks

 

On May 18, 2006, the State Council promulgated the Regulations on Protection of the Right of Dissemination through Information Networks, which became effective on July 1, 2006 and was revised in January 2013. These regulations require that every organization or individual who disseminates a third party’s work, performance, audio or visual recording products to the public through information networks shall obtain permission from, and pay compensation to, the legitimate copyright owner of such products, unless otherwise provided under relevant laws and regulations. The legitimate copyright owner may take technical measures to protect his or her copyright and any organization or individual shall not intentionally jeopardize, destroy or otherwise assist others in jeopardizing such protective measures unless otherwise permitted under law. The regulations also provide that permission from and compensation to the copyright owner is not required in the case of limited dissemination to teaching or research staff for the purpose of school instruction or scientific research only.

 

Xueersi Education, Xueersi Network and Haidian School are the operators of our website engaged in the dissemination of educational content through the Internet in China. We have established policies related to intellectual property rights protection in accordance with applicable PRC laws and regulations.

 

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Regulations on Consulting Services for Overseas Studies

 

With respect to intermediate and consulting business activities relating to self-funded overseas studies, the MOE and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce jointly issued the Administrative Regulations on the Intermediate Services for Self-funded Overseas Studies in August 1998 and its Implementing Rules in August 1999, which require that any intermediate service organization engaged in such services shall satisfy certain requirements set up therein, including having employees with experience in educational services, having established stable and cooperative relations with an overseas educational institution, and having sufficient funds to protect the rights and interests of customers. The intermediate service organizations which satisfy such requirements may apply with the MOE for the Recognition on the Intermediate Service Organization for Self-funded Overseas Studies. Organizations or individuals without such Recognition from the MOE are not allowed to engage in any intermediate and consulting business activities relating to self-funded overseas studies.

 

Beijing Dongfangrenli has obtained the Recognition on the Intermediate Service Organization for Self-funded Overseas Studies from the MOE.

 

Regulations on Copyright and Trademark Protection

 

China has adopted legislation governing intellectual property rights, including copyrights and trademarks. China is a signatory to major international conventions on intellectual property rights and is subject to the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights as a result of its accession to the World Trade Organization in December 2001.

 

Copyright. The National People’s Congress amended the Copyright Law in 2001 and 2010 to widen the scope of works and rights that are eligible for copyright protection. The amended Copyright Law extends copyright protection to Internet activities, products disseminated over the Internet and software products. In addition, there is a voluntary registration system administered by the China Copyright Protection Center.

 

To address copyright infringement related to content posted or transmitted over the Internet, the National Copyright Administration and MII jointly promulgated the Administrative Measures for Copyright Protection Related to the Internet on April 30, 2005. These measures became effective on May 30, 2005.

 

Trademark. The PRC Trademark Law, adopted in 1982 and revised in 2001 and 2013 (the 2013 revised version has been promulgated August 30, 2013 and became effective on May 1, 2014), protects the proprietary rights to registered trademarks. The Trademark Office under the State Administration for Industry and Commerce handles trademark registrations and may grant a term of ten years for registered trademarks, which may be extended for another ten years upon request. Trademark license agreements must be filed with the Trademark Office for record. In addition, if a registered trademark is recognized as a well-known trademark, the protection of the proprietary right of the trademark holder may reach beyond the specific sector of the relevant products or services. We have registered 80 trademarks with the Trademark Office. We have filed applications for registration of 72 other trademarks and logos with the Trademark Office. We are in the process of registering additional marks and logos.

 

Domain names. Internet domain name registration and related matters are primarily regulated by (i) the Implementing Rules on Registration of Domain Names, which was issued by China Internet Network Information Centre (the “CINIC”) on September 25, 2002 and was amended on June 5, 2009 and May 28, 2012 (the 2012 amended version became effective on May 29, 2012), (ii) the Measures on Administration of Domain Names for the Chinese Internet, issued by MIIT on November 5, 2004 and became effective as of December 20, 2004, and (iii) the Measures on Domain Name Disputes Resolution for the Chinese Internet issued by CINIC on May 28, 2012 and became effective as of June 28, 2012. Domain name registrations are handled through domain name service agencies established under the relevant regulations, and the applicants become domain name holders upon successful registration.

 

Regulations on Foreign Exchange Registration of Overseas Investment by PRC Residents.

 

The Notice on Relevant Issues Concerning Foreign Exchange Administration for Domestic Residents to Engage in Overseas Financing and Round Trip Investment via Overseas Special Purpose Vehicles, or Circular 75, issued by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange and effective on November 1, 2005, regulates foreign exchange matters in relation to the use of SPVs, by PRC residents to seek offshore equity financing and conduct “round trip investment” in China. Under Circular 75, a “special purpose vehicle” refers to an offshore entity established or controlled, directly or indirectly, by PRC residents or PRC entities for the purpose of seeking offshore equity financing using assets or interests owned by such PRC residents or PRC entities in onshore companies, while “round trip investment” refers to the direct investment in China by PRC residents through SPVs, including, without limitation, establishing foreign-invested enterprises and using such foreign-invested enterprises to purchase or control onshore assets through contractual arrangements. Circular 75 requires that, before establishing or controlling an SPV, PRC residents and PRC entities are required to complete foreign exchange registration with the local bureaus of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange for the purpose of raising funds from overseas to acquire assets of, or equity interest in, PRC companies.

 

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Circular 75 applies retroactively. PRC residents who have established or acquired control of SPVs that have completed “round-trip investments” before the implementation of the Circular 75 shall register their ownership interests or control in such SPVs with the local bureaus of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange before March 31, 2006. An amendment to the registration is required if there is a material change in the SPV registered, such as increase or reduction of share capital or transfer of shares. Failure to comply with the registration procedures set forth in Circular 75 may result in restrictions on the foreign exchange activities of the relevant foreign-invested enterprises, including payment of dividends and other distributions, such as proceeds from any reduction in capital, share transfer or liquidation, to its offshore parent or affiliate, and the capital inflow from the offshore parent, and may also subject relevant PRC residents to penalties under PRC foreign exchange administration regulations.

 

We believe that all of our shareholders who are PRC citizens or residents completed their required registrations with the SAFE in accordance with Circular 75 prior to, and immediately after, the completion of our initial public offering in October 2010, and we have filed with the SAFE amendments related to our listing on the New York Stock Exchange. Our shareholders who are PRC citizens or residents have updated their registrations with the SAFE in accordance with Circular 75 to reflect the establishment of new subsidiaries, the name changes to some of our subsidiaries and changes to their shareholding.

 

Regulations on Loans to and Direct Investment in the PRC Entities by Offshore Holding Companies

 

According to the Implementation Rules for the Provisional Regulations on Statistics and Supervision of Foreign Debt promulgated by the SAFE on September 24, 1997 and the Interim Provisions on the Management of Foreign Debts, or the Provisions, promulgated by SAFE, the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Finance, which was effective from March 1, 2003, loans by foreign companies to their subsidiaries in China, which are foreign-invested enterprises, are considered foreign debt, and such loans must be registered with the local bureaus of SAFE. Under the Provisions, these foreign-invested enterprises must submit registration applications to the local bureaus of the SAFE within 15 days following execution of foreign loan agreements, and the registration should be completed within 20 business days from the date of receipt of the application. In addition, the total amount of accumulated medium-term and long-term foreign debt and the balance of short-term debt borrowed by a foreign-invested enterprise is limited to the difference between the total investment and the registered capital of the foreign-invested enterprise. Total investment of a foreign-invested enterprise is the total amount of capital that can be used for the operation of the foreign-invested enterprise, as approved by the Ministry of Commerce or its local bureau, and may be increased or decreased upon approval by the Ministry of Commerce or its local bureau. Registered capital of a foreign-invested enterprise is the total amount of capital contributions to the foreign-invested enterprise by its foreign holding company or owners, as approved by the Ministry of Commerce or its local bureau and registered at the State Administration for Industry and Commerce or its local bureau.

 

According to applicable PRC regulations on foreign-invested enterprises, capital contributions from a foreign holding company to its PRC subsidiaries, which are considered foreign-invested enterprises, may only be made when approval by the Ministry of Commerce or its local bureau has been obtained. In approving such capital contributions, the Ministry of Commerce or its local bureau examines the business scope of each foreign invested enterprise under review to ensure it complies with the Foreign-Investment Industrial Guidance Catalog, which classifies industries in China into three categories, namely “encouraged foreign investment industries,” “restricted foreign investment industries” and “prohibited foreign investment industries.” Industries not listed in the Foreign-Investment Industrial Guidance Catalog are generally open to foreign investment unless specifically restricted by other PRC regulations.

 

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Each of our PRC subsidiaries is a foreign-invested enterprise, is not engaged in any prohibited or restricted businesses listed in the Foreign-Investment Industrial Guidance Catalog and has not incurred any foreign debt.

 

Regulations on Employee Share Incentive Awards Granted by Listed Companies

 

The Operating Procedures for Administration of PRC Individuals Participating in the Employee Share Ownership Plan of Offshore Listed Companies, or Circular 78, regulate the foreign exchange matters associated with employee stock ownership plans granted to PRC residents by companies whose shares are listed on overseas stock exchanges. PRC individuals who are granted share incentive awards by companies listed on overseas stock exchanges based on an employee stock ownership plan are required to register with the SAFE or its local bureaus. Pursuant to Circular 78, PRC individuals participating in the employee stock ownership plans of the foreign-listed companies shall entrust their employers, including foreign-listed companies and their subsidiaries or branch offices, or engage PRC agents, to handle various foreign exchange matters associated with their employee stock ownership plans. The PRC agents or the employers shall, on behalf of the PRC individuals who have the right to exercise the employee share options, apply annually to the SAFE or its local bureaus for a quota for conversion and/or payment of foreign currencies in connection with the PRC individuals’ exercise of the employee share options if necessary. The foreign exchange proceeds received by the PRC individuals from the sale of shares under the stock ownership plans granted by the foreign-listed companies must be remitted to bank accounts in China opened by their employers or PRC agents.

 

Further, a notice concerning individual income tax on earnings from employee share incentive awards, jointly issued by the Ministry of Finance and the State Administration of Taxation, provides that companies that implement employee stock ownership programs shall file the employee stock ownership plans and other relevant documents with the local tax authorities having jurisdiction over such companies before implementing such plans, and shall file share option exercise notices and other relevant documents with local tax authorities before exercise by their employees of any share options, and clarify whether the shares issuable under the employee share options referenced in the notice are shares of publicly listed companies.

 

On February 15, 2012, the SAFE issued the Notices on Issues concerning the Foreign Exchange Administration for Domestic Individuals Participating in a Stock Incentive Plan of an Overseas Publicly-Listed Company, or Circular 7, which terminated both Circular 78 and the Notice on Relinquishing Power of Approving the First-time Application of Foreign Exchange Purchase Quotas, Opening of Special Bank Accounts issued by the SAFE on January 7, 2008. According to Circular 7, if “domestic individuals” (meaning both PRC residents and non-PRC residents who reside in the PRC for a continuous period of not less than one year, excluding the foreign diplomatic personnel and representatives of international organizations) participate in any stock incentive plan of an overseas listed company, a qualified PRC domestic agent, which could be the PRC subsidiaries of such overseas listed company, shall, among other things, file, on behalf of such individuals, an application with the SAFE to conduct the SAFE registration with respect to such stock incentive plan, and obtain approval for an annual allowance with respect to the purchase of foreign exchange in connection with the stock purchase or stock option exercise. Such PRC individuals’ foreign exchange income received from the sale of stocks and dividends distributed by the overseas listed company and any other income shall be fully remitted into a collective foreign currency account in the PRC opened and managed by the PRC domestic agent before distribution to such individuals. In addition, such domestic individuals must also retain an overseas entrusted institution to handle matters in connection with the exercise of their stock options and their purchase and sale of stock. The PRC domestic agent also needs to update registration with the SAFE within three months after the overseas-listed company materially changes its stock incentive plan or make any new stock incentive plans.

 

Prior to the issuance of Circular 7, we received approval from the SAFE’s Beijing branch in January 2012 in regards to applications we had submitted on behalf of certain of our employees who hold a significant number of restricted shares. Upon the issuance of Circular 7, Circular 78 ceased to be applicable for such registration. From time to time, we need to make applications or update our registration with the SAFE or its local bureaus on behalf of our employees who are affected by our new share incentive plan or material changes in our current share incentive plan. However, we may not always be able to make applications or update our registration on behalf of our employees who hold our restricted shares in compliance with Circular 7, nor can we ensure you that such applications or update of registration will be successful. If we or the participants of our share incentive plan who are PRC citizens fail to comply with Circular 7, we and/or such participants of our share incentive plan may be subject to fines and legal sanctions, there may be additional restrictions on the ability of such participants to exercise their stock options or remit proceeds gained from sale of their stock into the PRC, and we may be prevented from further granting restricted shares or from granting options under our share incentive plan to our employees who are PRC citizens. Such events could adversely affect our business operations.

 

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M&A Regulations

 

On August 8, 2006, six PRC regulatory agencies, namely the Ministry of Commerce, the State Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, the State Administration for Taxation, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, the CSRC and SAFE, jointly adopted the M&A Rules, which became effective on September 8, 2006 and amended on June 22, 2009. The M&A Rules establish procedures and requirements that could make some acquisitions of Chinese companies by foreign investors more time-consuming and complex, including requirements in some instances that the Ministry of Commerce be notified in advance of any change-of-control transaction in which a foreign investor takes control of a Chinese domestic enterprise where any of the following situations exist: (i) the transaction involves an important industry in China, (ii) the transaction may affect national “economic security,” or (iii) the PRC domestic enterprise has a well-known trademark or historical Chinese trade name in China. Complying with the requirements of the M&A Rules to complete acquisitions of Chinese companies by foreign investors could be time-consuming, and any required approval processes, including obtaining approval from the Ministry of Commerce, may delay or inhibit the ability to complete such transactions.

 

Regulations on Foreign Currency Exchange

 

Pursuant to applicable PRC regulations on foreign currency exchange, the Renminbi is freely convertible to foreign currencies for current account items only, such as trade-related receipts and payments, interest and dividends. Conversion of Renminbi to foreign exchange for capital account items, such as direct equity investments, loans and repatriation of investments, require the prior approval of the SAFE or its local bureaus. Payments for transactions that take place within the PRC must be made in Renminbi. Domestic companies or individuals can repatriate payments received from abroad in foreign currencies or deposit those payments abroad subject to the requirement that such payments be repatriated within a certain period of time. Foreign-invested enterprises may retain foreign exchange in accounts with designated foreign exchange banks. Foreign exchange on the current account can be either retained or sold to financial institutions that have foreign exchange settlement or sales business without prior approval from the SAFE, subject to certain regulations. Foreign exchange on the capital account can be retained or sold to financial institutions that have foreign exchange settlement and sales business with prior approval of SAFE, unless otherwise provided.

 

In utilizing the proceeds we received from our initial public offering, as an offshore holding company with PRC subsidiaries, we may (i) make additional capital contributions to our PRC subsidiaries, (ii) establish new PRC subsidiaries and make capital contributions to these new PRC subsidiaries, (iii) make loans to our PRC subsidiaries or our Consolidated Affiliated Entities, or (iv) acquire offshore entities with business operations in China in an offshore transaction. However, most of these uses are subject to PRC regulations and approvals. For example:

 

·                  capital contributions to our subsidiaries in China, whether existing ones or newly established ones, must be approved by the PRC Ministry of Commerce or its local bureaus and must also be registered with the SAFE or its local bureaus;

 

·                  loans by us to our subsidiaries in China, each of which is a foreign-invested enterprise, to finance their activities cannot exceed statutory limits and must be registered with the SAFE or its local bureaus; and

 

·                  loans by us to our Consolidated Affiliated Entities, which are domestic PRC entities, must be approved by the National Development and Reform Commission and must also be registered with the SAFE or its local bureaus.

 

In addition, on August 29, 2008, the SAFE promulgated Circular 142, a notice regulating the conversion by a foreign-invested company of its capital contribution in foreign currency into Renminbi. Circular 142 restricts the use of Renminbi funds converted from foreign exchange. It requires that Renminbi converted from foreign currency-denominated capital of a foreign-invested enterprise may only be used for purposes within the business scope approved by the relevant government authority and may not be used to make equity investments in PRC, unless specifically provided otherwise. Moreover, the approved use of such Renminbi funds may not be changed without approval from SAFE. Renminbi funds converted from foreign exchange may not be used to repay loans in Renminbi if the proceeds of such loans have not yet been used. Any violation of Circular 142 may result in severe penalties, including substantial fines. Furthermore, the SAFE promulgated a circular on November 9, 2010, or Circular 59, which, among other things, requires the authenticity of settlement of net proceeds from offshore offerings to be closely examined and the net proceeds to be settled in the manner described in the offering documents, or otherwise approved by the board. Accordingly, if we apply with the SAFE to convert the proceeds from our initial public offering in October 2010 into Renminbi funds for use of such funds in the PRC, they need to be used in accordance with the section entitled “Use of Proceeds” in our initial public offering final prospectus, or when the use of the proceeds is beyond what described in the section entitled “Use of Proceeds”, we should submit the board resolution in relation to such use of proceeds to the SAFE and the settlement of foreign exchange for such use of proceeds shall comply with the regulations of the PRC in relation to foreign exchange.

 

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We expect that PRC regulations concerning loans and direct investment by offshore holding companies to PRC entities will continue to limit our use of proceeds from our initial public offering. There are no costs associated with registering loans or capital contributions with relevant PRC authorities, other than nominal processing charges. Under PRC laws and regulations, the PRC government authorities are required to process such approvals or registrations or deny our application within a maximum of 90 days. The actual time taken, however, may be longer due to administrative delay. We cannot assure you that we will be able to obtain these government registrations or approvals on a timely basis, if at all, with respect to our future plans to use the U.S. dollar proceeds we received from our initial public offering for our expansion and operations in China. If we fail to receive such registrations or approvals, our ability to use the proceeds from our initial public offering and to capitalize our PRC operations may be negatively affected, which could materially and adversely affect our liquidity and ability to fund and expand our business.

 

Regulations on Dividend Distribution

 

Under applicable PRC laws and regulations, companies in China may pay dividends only out of their accumulated profits, if any, determined in accordance with PRC accounting standards and regulations. In addition, companies in China are required to allocate at least 10% of their accumulated profits each year, if any, to fund statutory reserves of up to 50% of the registered capital of the enterprise. Statutory reserves are not distributable as cash dividends. Each of our subsidiaries, VIEs and VIEs’ subsidiaries in China are required to comply with this statutory reserves funding requirement. Although the statutory surplus reserves can be used, among other ways, to increase the registered capital and eliminate future losses in excess of retained earnings of the respective companies, the reserve funds are not distributable as cash dividends except in the event of liquidation. In addition, at the end of each fiscal year, each of our affiliated schools in China is required to allocate a certain amount out of its annual net income, if any, to its development fund for the construction or maintenance of the school or procurement or upgrade of educational equipment. For our 19 private schools which have elected to require reasonable returns, this amount shall be no less than 25% of the annual net income of the school, and for the remaining 11 private schools which have elected not to require reasonable returns, this amount shall be equivalent to no less than 25% of the annual increase in the net assets of the school, if any. As a result of these PRC laws and regulations, as of February 28, 2014, we had $15.0 million in statutory surplus reserves and development fund, or 5.8% of total equity, that are not distributable as cash dividends. We do not expect that the statutory surplus reserve requirement will materially limit our ability to pay dividends to our shareholders or our plan to expand our business because we are to date only required to set aside an additional $2.5 million to satisfy the maximum requirement of statutory surplus reserves for all of our PRC subsidiaries and our Consolidated Affiliated Entities.

 

C. Organizational Structure

 

The following diagram sets out details of our significant subsidiaries and Consolidated Affiliated Entities as of the date of this annual report:

 

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Note:

 

(1)         Mr. Bangxin Zhang is our chairman and chief executive officer. He owned 37.8% of the common shares and 68.2% of the voting power of TAL Education Group as of April 30, 2014.

 

(2)         Mr. Yundong Cao owned 8.4% of the common shares and 9.0% of the voting power of TAL Education Group, as reported on Schedule 13G/A filed by Central Glory Investments Limited on February 14, 2014.

 

(3)         Mr. Yachao Liu is our senior vice president. He owned 5.7% of the common shares and 10.1% of the voting power of TAL Education Group as of April 30, 2014.

 

(4)         Mr. Yunfeng Bai is our senior vice president. He owned 2.5% of the common shares and 4.5% of voting power of TAL Education Group as of April 30, 2014.

 

(5)         Percentage ownership represents aggregate ownership of Xueersi Education and Xueersi Network. Xueersi Education is the majority shareholder of five subsidiaries, and the minority shareholdings of each of the five subsidiaries are held by Xueersi Network. Three of the five subsidiaries wholly owns five schools. Xueersi Education wholly owns the remaining six subsidiaries and 19 schools. We evaluated the sponsorship interest in the schools for consolidation under the asset, lease, variable interest entity and voting interest models. After consideration, we consolidated the schools under the variable interest model.

 

Contractual Arrangements with Our Consolidated Affiliated Entities

 

Due to PRC legal restrictions on foreign ownership and investment in the education business in China, TAL Beijing, one of our wholly owned PRC subsidiaries, has entered into a series of contractual arrangements with Xueersi Education, Xueersi Network and Beijing Dongfangrenli, which we refer to as our VIEs, and the respective shareholders, subsidiaries and schools of our VIEs. The series of contractual arrangements, which are summarized below, enable us, through TAL Beijing, (1) to direct the activities of our VIEs that most significantly affect the VIEs’ economic performance and (2) to receive substantially all the benefits from our Consolidated Affiliated Entities. We rely on the series of contractual arrangements among TAL Beijing, Xueersi Education, Xueersi Network and Beijing Dongfangrenli and their respective shareholders, subsidiaries and schools to conduct most of our tutoring services in China. Substantially all of our personalized premium services in Beijing are offered through Huanqiu Zhikang.

 

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Exclusive Business Service Agreements. Pursuant to the Exclusive Business Cooperation Agreement entered into in June 2010 by and among TAL Beijing, Xueersi Education, Xueersi Network, the shareholders of Xueersi Education and Xueersi Network and our other Consolidated Affiliated Entities, which supersedes all agreements among parties with respect to subject matters thereof, TAL Beijing or its designated affiliates have the exclusive right to provide each of Xueersi Education and Xueersi Network and their subsidiaries and schools comprehensive intellectual property licensing and various technical and business support services. Pursuant to the Exclusive Service Agreement entered into by and among TAL Beijing, Beijing Dongfangrenli and its shareholders on December 27, 2011, TAL Beijing and its designated affiliates have the exclusive right to provide Beijing Dongfangrenli and its subsidiaries (if any) comprehensive intellectual property licensing and various technical and business support services. The services under each of these agreements include, but are not limited to, employee training, technology development, transfer and consulting services, public relation services, market survey, research and consulting services, market development and planning services, human resource and internal information management, network development, upgrade and ordinary maintenance services, and software and trademark licensing and other additional services as the parties may mutually agree from time to time. Without the prior written consent of TAL Beijing, none of the VIEs or their respective subsidiaries or schools may accept services provided by any third party which are covered by the agreements set forth above. TAL Beijing or its designated affiliates owns the exclusive intellectual property rights created as a result of the performance of these agreements. Our Consolidated Affiliated Entities agree to pay annual service fees to TAL Beijing or its designated affiliates and adjust the service fee rates from time to time at TAL Beijing’s discretion. The agreements will not expire unless terminated pursuant by a mutual agreement of parties. Each of these agreements entitle TAL Beijing or its designated affiliates to charge our Consolidated Affiliated Entities annual service fees that amount to substantially all of the net income of the Consolidated Affiliated Entities before the service fees.

 

Call Option Agreement. Pursuant to a call option agreement, dated February 12, 2009, by and among TAL Beijing, Xueersi Education, Xueersi Network and the respective shareholders of Xueersi Education and Xueersi Network, the respective shareholders of Xueersi Education and Xueersi Network unconditionally and irrevocably granted TAL Beijing or its designated party an exclusive option to purchase from the shareholders part or all of the equity interests in Xueersi Education and Xueersi Network, as the case may be, for the minimum amount of consideration permitted by the applicable PRC laws and regulations under the circumstances where TAL Beijing or its designated party is permitted under PRC laws and regulations to own all or part of the equity interests of Xueersi Education and Xueersi Network or where we otherwise deem it necessary or appropriate to exercise the option. TAL Beijing, Beijing Dongfangrenli and the shareholders of Beijing Dongfangrenli have entered into an option agreement, dated December 27, 2011, the terms of which are substantially the same as the call option agreement summarized above. Under each of these agreements, TAL Beijing has sole discretion to decide when to exercise the option, and whether to exercise the option in part or in full. The key factor for us to decide whether to exercise the option is whether the current regulatory restrictions on foreign investment in the educational service business will be removed in the future, the likelihood of which we are not in a position to know or comment on.

 

Equity Pledge Agreement. Pursuant to an equity pledge agreement, dated February 12, 2009, by and among TAL Beijing, Xueersi Education, Xueersi Network and the respective shareholders of Xueersi Education and Xueersi Network, the respective shareholders of Xueersi Education and Xueersi Network unconditionally and irrevocably pledged all of their equity interests in Xueersi Education and Xueersi Network to TAL Beijing to guarantee performance of the obligations of Xueersi Education and Xueersi Network and their respective subsidiaries and schools under the technology support and service agreements with TAL Beijing. The shareholders of Xueersi Education and Xueersi Network agree that, without the prior written consent of TAL Beijing, they will not transfer or dispose the pledged equity interests or create or allow any encumbrance on the pledged equity interests that would prejudice TAL Beijing’s interest. TAL Beijing, Beijing Dongfangrenli and the shareholders of Beijing Dongfangrenli have entered into an equity pledge agreement, dated December 27, 2011, the terms of which are substantially the same as the agreement summarized above. The above pledges of the equity interests in Xueersi Education, Xueersi Network and Beijing Dongfangrenli have been registered with the relevant local branch of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce in China.

 

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Letter of Undertaking. All of the shareholders of Xueersi Education and Xueersi Network have executed a letter of undertaking to covenant with and undertake to TAL Beijing that, if, as the respective shareholders of Xueersi Education and Xueersi Network, such shareholders receive any dividends, interests, other distributions or remnant assets upon liquidation from Xueersi Education and Xueersi Network, such shareholders shall, to the extent permitted by applicable laws, regulations and legal procedures, remit all such income after payment of any applicable tax and other expenses required by laws and regulations to TAL Beijing without any compensation therefore. All of the shareholders of Beijing Dongfangrenli have made similar undertakings in the option agreement, dated December 27, 2011, described above.

 

Power of Attorney. Each of the shareholders of our VIEs has executed an irrevocable power of attorney appointing TAL Beijing, or any person designated by TAL Beijing as their attorney-in-fact to vote on their behalf on all matters of our VIEs requiring shareholder approval under PRC laws and regulations and the articles of association of each of our VIEs. The power of attorney remains effective as long as the relevant person remains a shareholder of the VIE.

 

The articles of association of each of our VIEs states that the major rights of the shareholders in a shareholders’ meeting include the power to approve the operating strategy and investment plan, elect the members of board of directors and approve their compensation and review and approve the annual budget and earning distribution plan. Therefore, through the irrevocable power of attorney arrangement, TAL Beijing has the ability to exercise effective control over each of our VIEs through shareholder votes and, through such votes, to also control the composition of the board of directors. In addition, the senior management team of each of our VIEs is the same as that of, or is appointed and controlled by, TAL Beijing. As a result of these contractual rights, we have the power to direct the activities of each of our VIEs that most significantly impact their economic performance.

 

Spousal consent letter: The spouse of each shareholder of our VIEs has entered into a spousal consent letter to acknowledge that she is aware of, and consents to, the execution by her spouse of the equity pledge agreement, the call option agreement and the power of attorney described above. Each such spouse further agrees that she will not take any actions or raise any claims to interfere with performance by her spouse of the obligations under the above mentioned agreements.

 

In the opinion of Tian Yuan Law Firm, our PRC legal counsel:

 

·                  the ownership structures of our Consolidated Affiliated Entities and wholly owned subsidiaries in China are in compliance with existing PRC laws and regulations; and

 

·                  the contractual arrangements among our wholly owned subsidiaries in China, our Consolidated Affiliated Entities, and the shareholders of our VIEs are valid, binding and enforceable under, and will not result in any violation of, PRC laws or regulations currently in effect.

 

We have been advised by our PRC legal counsel, however, that there are substantial uncertainties regarding the interpretation and application of current and future PRC laws and regulations. Accordingly, there can be no assurance that the PRC regulatory authorities will not in the future take a view that is contrary to the above opinion of our PRC legal counsel. We have been further advised by our PRC counsel that if the PRC government finds that the agreements that establish the structure for operating our PRC education business do not comply with PRC government restrictions on foreign investment in the education business, we could be subject to severe penalties, which could include the PRC government:

 

·                  revoking our business and operating licenses;

 

·                  requiring us to discontinue or restrict our operations;

 

·                  limit our business expansion in China by way of entering into contractual arrangements;

 

·                  restricting our right to collect revenues;

 

·                  blocking our websites;

 

·                  requiring us to restructure our operations in such a way as to compel us to establish a new enterprise, re-apply for the necessary licenses or relocate our businesses, staff and assets;

 

·                  imposing additional conditions or requirements with which we may not be able to comply; or

 

·                  taking other regulatory or enforcement actions against us that could be harmful to our business.

 

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The imposition of any of these penalties could result in a material adverse effect on our ability to conduct our business. See “Item 3.D.—Key Information—Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Corporate Structure—If the PRC government determines that the agreements that establish the structure for operating our business in China are not in compliance with applicable PRC laws and regulations, we could be subject to severe penalties” and “Item 3.D.—Key Information—Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—Uncertainties with respect to the PRC legal system could have a material adverse effect on us.”

 

In addition to the series of contractual arrangements among TAL Beijing, Xueersi Education, Xueersi Network and Beijing Dongfangrenli and their respective shareholders, subsidiaries and schools, we have entered into a deed of undertaking on June 24, 2013 and a side letter dated July 29, 2013 with Mr. Bangxin Zhang, our Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer (collectively, the “Deed”). Pursuant to the Deed, Mr. Zhang has irrevocably covenanted and undertaken to us that:

 

·                  as long as Mr. Bangxin Zhang owns shares in our company, whether legally or beneficially, and directly or indirectly (including shares held through Mr. Bangxin Zhang’s personal holding company Bright Unison Limited or any other company, trust, nominee or agent, if any), representing more than 50% of the aggregate voting power of the then total issued and outstanding shares of our company,

 

·                  Mr. Bangxin Zhang will not, directly or indirectly, (i) requisition or call any meeting of our shareholders for the purpose of removing or replacing any of our existing directors or appointing any new director, or (ii) propose any resolution at any of our shareholders meetings to remove or replace any of our existing directors or appoint any new director; and

 

·                  should any meeting of our shareholders be called by the board of directors or requisitioned or called by our shareholders for the purpose of removing or replacing any of the directors or appointing any new director, or if any resolution is proposed at any of our shareholder meetings to remove or replace any of the directors or appoint any new director, the maximum number of votes which Mr. Bangxin Zhang will be permitted to exercise shall be equal to the total aggregate number of votes of the then total issued and outstanding shares of our company held by all members of our company, other than shares which are owned, whether legally or beneficially, and directly or indirectly by Mr. Bangxin Zhang, less one vote.

 

·                  Mr. Bangxin Zhang will not cast any votes he has as a director or shareholder (if applicable) on any resolutions or matters concerning enforcing, amending or otherwise relating to the Deed being considered or voted upon by our board of directors or our shareholders, as the case may be.

 

In the opinion of Maples and Calder, our Cayman Islands legal counsel, the deed of undertaking constitutes the legal, valid and binding obligations of Mr. Bangxin Zhang, which cannot be unilaterally revoked by Mr. Bangxin Zhang, and is enforceable in accordance with its terms under existing Cayman Islands laws.

 

D. Property, Plants and Equipment

 

Facilities

 

Our headquarters are located in Beijing, China. As of February 28, 2014, we leased approximately 111,700 square meters in Beijing, consisting of approximately 103,000 square meters of learning center and service center space and approximately 8,700 square meters of office space. As of February 28, 2014, we owned 7,582 square meters of office space in Beijing, which we purchased in July 2011 for a total cash consideration (including related taxes) of approximately $62.5 million, and the renovation of which was completed in January 2013.

 

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In addition to our learning center and service center space and office space leased in Beijing, as of February 28, 2014, we leased an aggregate of approximately 139,100 square meters of learning center and service center space and an aggregate of approximately 15,300 square meters of office space in 15 other cities throughout China.

 

For more information concerning the usage of our learning centers and service centers, please see “Item 4.B. Information on the Company—Business Overview—Our Network.”

 

Item 4A.                        Unresolved Staff Comments

 

None.

 

Item 5.                                 Operating and Financial Review and Prospects

 

You should read the following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements and the related notes included elsewhere in this annual report. This discussion contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Our actual results and the timing of selected events could differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, including those set forth under “Item 3.D. Key Information—Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this annual report.

 

A. Operating Results

 

Overview

 

Our extensive network of learning centers and service centers has increased from 270 and 247, respectively, in the fiscal year ended February 29, 2012, to 274 and 251, respectively, in the fiscal year ended February 28, 2014. Our student enrollments increased from approximately 690,300 in the fiscal year ended February 29, 2012 to approximately 1,073,950  in the fiscal year ended February 28, 2014, representing a CAGR of 24.7%.

 

We have experienced significant growth in our business in recent years. Our total net revenues increased from $177.5 million in the fiscal year ended February 29, 2012 to $313.9 million in the fiscal year ended February 28, 2014, representing a CAGR of 33.0%. Our net income increased from $24.3 million in the fiscal year ended February 29, 2012 to $60.6 million in the fiscal year ended February 28, 2014, representing a CAGR of 57.9%.

 

Factors Affecting Our Results of Operations

 

We have benefited significantly from the overall economic growth, the increase in household disposable income, the rising household spending on private education and the intense competition for quality education in China, which has caused the K-12 after-school tutoring market in China to grow in recent years. We anticipate that the demand for K-12 after-school tutoring services will continue to grow. However, any adverse changes in the economic conditions in China that adversely affect the K-12 after-school tutoring service market in China may harm our business and results of operations.

 

Our results of operations are also affected by the education system or policies relating to the after-school tutoring service market in China. Due to PRC legal restrictions on foreign ownership and investment in education businesses in China, we have entered into a series of contractual arrangements among TAL Beijing, on the one hand, and Xueersi Education, Xueersi Network, Beijing Dongfangrenli and their respective shareholders, subsidiaries and schools, on the other hand. We rely on a series of contractual arrangements among TAL Beijing, Xueersi Education, Xueersi Network and Beijing Dongfangrenli and their respective shareholders, subsidiaries and schools to conduct most of our services in China. Substantially all of our personalized premium services in Beijing are offered through Huanqiu Zhikang. We do not have equity interests in Xueersi Education, Xueersi Network and Beijing Dongfangrenli; however, as a result of these contractual arrangements, we are the primary beneficiary of these entities and treat them as our VIEs under U.S. GAAP. In the opinion of Tian Yuan Law Firm, our PRC legal counsel, (i) the ownership structures of our Consolidated Affiliated Entities and wholly owned subsidiaries in China are in compliance with existing PRC laws and regulations, and (ii) the contractual arrangements among our wholly owned subsidiaries in China, our Consolidated Affiliated Entities and the shareholders of our VIEs are valid, binding and enforceable under, and will not result in any violation of, PRC laws or regulations currently in effect. We have been advised by our PRC legal counsel, however, that there are substantial uncertainties regarding the interpretation and application of current and future PRC laws and regulations. See “Item 3.D.—Key Information—Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Corporate Structure—If the PRC government determines that the agreements that establish the structure for operating our business in China are not in compliance with applicable PRC laws and regulations, we could be subject to severe penalties” and “Item 3.D.—Key Information—Risk Factors—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—Uncertainties with respect to the PRC legal system could have a material adverse effect on us.”

 

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While our business is influenced by factors affecting the private education industry in China generally and by conditions in each of the geographic markets covered by our service network, we believe that our results of operations are more directly affected by company-specific factors, including the number of student enrollments, the pricing of our tutoring services and the amount of our costs and expenses.

 

Number of Student Enrollments

 

Our revenue growth is primarily driven by the increase in the number of student enrollments, which is directly affected by the number of our learning centers, the number and varieties of our courses and service offerings, including both our center-based and online courses offerings, our student retention rate, our ability to attract new students and the effectiveness of our cross-selling efforts.

 

In recent years, we have opened new learning centers to further penetrate our existing markets and enter new markets. The number of our learning centers grew from 270 in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen Tianjin, Wuhan, Xi’an, Chengdu, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Taiyuan, Zhengzhou, Chongqing and Suzhou as of February 29, 2012, to 274 in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Wuhan, Xi’an, Chengdu, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Taiyuan, Zhengzhou, Chongqing, Suzhou, Shenyang and Jinan as of February 28, 2014. We plan to open additional learning centers in these above cities and explore opportunities to open learning centers in other targeted geographic markets in China in order to continue to attract new student enrollments.

 

In addition, in recent years, we have significantly expanded our course offerings to cover new subjects and additional grade levels. In Beijing, we grew from primarily offering tutoring classes in mathematics to becoming a comprehensive after-school tutoring service provider, covering all core subjects in China’s school curricula at each grade level of the K-12 system. We initially offered only small-class tutoring services, and then added personalized premium services in September 2007 and began offering online courses through www.xueersi.com in January 2010. Our expansion of courses and service offerings allows us to better attract new students with different needs and provides us greater cross-selling opportunities with respect to our existing students.

 

Pricing

 

Our results of operations are also affected by the pricing for our tutoring services. We generally charge students based on the hourly rates of our courses and the total number of hours for all the courses taken by each student. We determine hourly rates for our courses primarily based on the demand for our courses, cost of our services, the geographic markets where the courses are offered, and the fees charged by our competitors for the same or similar courses. During the fiscal years ended February 28, 2013 and 2014, we increased hourly rates or number of hours per course for a portion of our small class offerings.

 

Costs and Expenses

 

Our ability to maintain and increase profitability also depends on our ability to effectively control our costs and expenses. A significant component of our cost of revenues is compensation to our teachers. We offer competitive remunerations to our teachers in order to attract and retain top teaching talent. Fees and performance-linked bonuses to our teachers accounted for approximately 24%, 23% and 21% of our net revenues for the fiscal years ended February 29, 2012, February 28, 2013 and February 28, 2014, respectively. Another important component of our cost of revenues is rental expenses for our learning and service centers, which accounted for approximately 14.7%. 14.9% and 14.1% of our net revenues for the fiscal years ended February 29, 2012, February 28, 2013 and February 28, 2014, respectively. For the fiscal years ended February 29, 2012, February 28, 2013 and February 28, 2014, we incurred share-based compensation expenses representing approximately 4.5%, 3.7% and 2.7%, respectively, of our net revenues, and we expect to continue to incur share-based compensation expenses in the future.

 

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Our cost of revenues as a percentage of our total net revenues was 53.8%, 51.2% and 48.3% for the fiscal years ended February 29, 2012, February 28, 2013, and February 28, 2014 respectively. The decrease in our cost of revenues as a percentage of our total net revenues from fiscal year 2012 to fiscal year 2013 was largely a result of our further effort to improve teacher and facility utilization while raising hourly rate for many of our courses, as well as continuing tight control of other costs in fiscal year 2013. The decrease in our cost of revenues as a percentage of our total net revenues from fiscal year 2013 to fiscal year 2014 was largely a result of continuous improvements in our teacher and facility utilization while raising hourly rate of a portion of our small-class offerings.

 

Our operating expenses include two key components, selling and marketing expenses and general and administrative expenses. Our total operating expenses as a percentage of our total net revenues was 34.4%, 35.1% and 33.8% for the fiscal years ended February 29, 2012, February 28, 2013 and February 28, 2014, respectively. Our selling and marketing expenses and our general and administrative expenses each grew over this time period. Our selling and marketing expenses grew primarily due to an increase in the number of our sales and marketing personnel and their respective salaries to support a greater number of program and service offerings. Our general and administrative expenses grew primarily due to increases in the number of our general and administrative personnel, an increase in the average salaries and benefits provided to our general and administrative staff, an increase in fees paid to our professional advisors and service providers, share-based compensation, office expenses, and depreciation expenses for the office space purchased by us in Beijing, which commenced in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2013. The growth of our selling and marketing expenses and our general administrative expenses has also been a result of the expansion of our learning centers and service centers capacity over the past few years. Going forward, we expect that our total costs and expenses will continue to increase due to the expansion of our services and operations, as well as costs and ongoing expenses associated with being a public company; however, such increase is likely to be partially offset by our increasing economies of scale and improved operating efficiency.

 

Key Components of Results of Operations

 

Net Revenues

 

In the fiscal years ended February 29, 2012, February 28, 2013, and February 28, 2014, we generated total net revenues of $177.5 million, $225.9 million and $313.9 million, respectively. We derive substantially all of our revenues from tutoring services, including small classes and personalized premium services. Revenues generated from our online course offerings through www.xueersi.com contributed 3.2%, 3.1% and 3.0% of our total net revenues in the fiscal years ended February 29, 2012, February 28, 2013 and February 28, 2014, respectively. Our revenues are presented net of business tax.

 

We generally collect course fees in advance, which we initially record as deferred revenues. We recognize course fees as revenues proportionately as the tutoring courses are delivered. We had deferred revenues in the amounts of $85.6 million, $102.5 million and $132.4 million, as of February 29, 2012, February 28, 2013, and February 28, 2014, respectively.

 

Generally, for our Xueersi Peiyou small-class courses consisting of more than seven classes per course, we offer tuition refunds for any remaining unattended classes to students who decide to withdraw from a course, provided that the course is less than two-thirds completed at the time of withdrawal. For Mobby small-class courses, if a student withdraws and the course is less than one-third completed at the time of withdrawal, we offer a refund of 60% of the course fees received from the student. If over one-third of the course is completed, no refund will be provided. For personalized premium services, a student can withdraw at any time and receive a refund for the undelivered classes. Refunds are recorded as deductions to deferred revenues. For online courses, we offer refunds to students who decide to withdraw from the subscribed but untaken courses within the course offer period, which generally ranges from five months to fifteen months, and a proportional refund based on the percentage of untaken courses.

 

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Cost of Revenues and Operating Expenses

 

The following table sets forth, for the periods indicated, our cost of revenues and operating expenses, in absolute amounts and as percentages of the total net revenues:

 

 

 

For the Year Ended February 28/29,

 

 

 

2012

 

2013

 

2014

 

 

 

$

 

%

 

$

 

%

 

$

 

%

 

 

 

(in thousands of $, except percentages)

 

Net revenues

 

$

177,520

 

100.0

%

$

225,931

 

100.0

%

$

313,895

 

100.0

%

Total cost of revenues(1)

 

(95,587

)

(53.8

)

(115,749

)

(51.2

)

(151,543

)

(48.3