Birmingham – LAWFUEL – Legal News, Legal Jobs – DLA Piper’s Corporate team has advised the founding shareholders of Busy Bees and Gresham Private Equity on their agreed sale of the childcare business to Australian company ABC Learning Centres Ltd. The deal is worth £71 million – a return of 3.7 times its initial investment for Gresham Private Equity since its initial investment in February 2000.
Busy Bees has established a leading position in the UK childcare market through its two principle operating businesses, Busy Bees Nurseries and Busy Bees Childcare Vouchers. Busy Bees has around 1,500 employees and is based in Burntwood, Staffordshire.
The nursery business operates from 46 centres across the UK including wholly-owned nurseries, facilities managed on behalf of public and private sector clients and facilities at shopping, sports and leisure centres.
The Busy Bees voucher business is a market leader in the high growth sector of childcare vouchers. Currently over 50,000 parents regularly use Busy Bees childcare vouchers. 168 local councils and over 300 NHS Trusts provide Busy Bees childcare vouchers to their staff. Corporate users include BAE Systems and Asda.
Gresham’s director, James Barbour-Smith said: “We are delighted that ABC Learning Centres recognised Busy Bees as a very high quality business in the UK childcare market.
“They approached us to sell the company to them as their preferred move into the UK market. This is great testament to what the Busy Bees management team have achieved with its nurseries and childcare vouchers.”
John Woodward, managing director of Busy Bees, said: “This is a very exciting opportunity for Busy Bees and ABC to grow significantly in both the UK market and overseas. I would like to thank Gresham for their advice and support since they backed our team in 2000.”
Russell Orme, head of Corporate in the Midlands and partner Mark Beardmore led the DLA Piper team.
Russell Orme commented: “We acted on the original MBO of Busy Bees Group in 2000 and since then Busy Bees Group has expanded into one of the leading childcare specialists in the UK – as always, it is particularly rewarding to act from the start through to a very successful exit for all shareholders.
“ABC is the biggest childcare provider in Australia and New Zealand and will become the second largest in the US following its acquisition of La Petite Academy announced in the same week as Busy Bees.
“ABC is an extremely ambitious Group and it should have a great opportunity following its acquisition of Busy Bees Group, its first in the UK, to establish itself as one of the leading childcare providers across Europe in a large but fragmented market, in the next few years”
Busy Bees is the fifth successful exit achieved by Gresham in the last six weeks, the other exits being Whitworths, Blue Group, Individual Restaurant Company, and Target Express.