Bright Horizons Acquires Kidsunlimited for £45m

10 Apr 2013

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Bright Horizons Family Solutions® (“Bright Horizons”), a global provider of employer-sponsored child care and early education, has acquired kidsunlimited, one of the UK’s largest providers of nursery care, for a cash consideration of £45 million.

The acquisition provides an exit for kidsunlimited’s private equity investor, LDC, which backed a secondary buyout of the business in 2008.

Bright Horizons®, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, is a leading provider of high-quality child care, early education and other services designed to help employers and families better address the challenges of work and life. It delivers centre-based full service child care, back-up dependent care and educational advisory services to more than 850 clients across the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands, Canada and India, including more than 130 FORTUNE 500 companies.

I’d like to thank Steve Harrison and the team at LDC for their strategic and financial support over the last five years, which has helped us deliver our ambitions for the business.

Ros Marshall

CEO, Kidsunlimited

Founded in 1983, kidsunlimited operates 64 nurseries, including lease/consortium locations as well as workplace nurseries for blue-chip employers such as Cambridge University Hospitals, WH Smith, and The University of Oxford. The network of locations includes a strong concentration of nurseries in the North West, London/South East Region as well as Oxford and Cambridge.

This acquisition brings the total number of Bright Horizons-owned centres in the UK to 203, with the capacity to serve approximately 15,500 children.

Under LDC’s ownership, kidsunlimited opened a total of 15 new sites and grew revenues by 40 per cent to £41.4 million (FY ending April 2012) as well as continuing to invest heavily in training and resources.

The deal was led in house by Commercial Director Catherine Houghton, supported by in house legal counsel Claire Chadwick. Catherine joined the business last year from LDC and has left the business on completion.

Ros Marshall, CEO of kidsunlimited, said: "Joining forces with Bright Horizons creates an excellent opportunity for the business and our people, as well as our parents and their children.”

“I’d also like to thank Steve Harrison and the team at LDC for their strategic and financial support over the last five years, which has helped us deliver our ambitions for the business and secure an excellent outcome for all parties.”

Steve Harrison, a Director of LDC and Executive Chairman of kidsunlimited, said: “This is a strong strategic fit for both companies. Ros and the management team have done an outstanding job in driving organic growth and the nursery rollout strategy. The team has also continued to deliver on its commitment to quality standards across the group, carving out a reputation as a leading player in the promotion of childcare and early years education in the UK. We wish them every success for the future.”

David Lissy, CEO of Bright Horizons, said: “We have long admired the kidsunlimited team and are excited to welcome the children and families they serve as well as their nursery staff and clients into the Bright Horizons family.  Both organisations share a deep commitment to quality early years education and workplace child care, giving us the seamless ability to join forces and making this a natural step for our growth in the region. The combination gives us a well-established foothold providing high-quality care and early education for children throughout England, and solidifies our position as the leader in providing high-quality employer sponsored child care throughout the UK.”

This is a strong strategic fit for both companies. Ros and the management team have done an outstanding job in driving organic growth and the nursery rollout strategy.

Steve Harrison

Investment Director, LDC

Jonathan Robinson of DWF provided legal advice to the vendors and due diligence support was given by Jodi Birkett of Deloitte.

Last year, LDC invested over £280 million of equity across 18 new businesses and £86 million of additional equity supporting portfolio company acquisitions. So far this year, it has made investments in ATG Access, the global leader in high security vehicle barrier systems, oil and gas services group Ramco, Validus-IVC, a provider of claims management and counter fraud software service, NRS Healthcare, the outsourced provider of specialist community healthcare equipment and services, and Fever-Tree, the UK’s leading premium tonic water and mixers brand.

The sale of kidsunlimited follows LDC’s exit from MB Aerospace, also led by Steve Harrison, through a secondary buyout to US based Arlington Capital Partners.

ENDS 10 April 2013

Issued on behalf of LDC by Citypress.

Press information:

Martin Currie

Citypress (on behalf of LDC)

T. 0161 235 0310 / 07976 291532

E. martin.currie@citypress.co.uk

Alastair Henry

Citypress (on behalf of LDC)

T. 0161 235 0320 / 07738 206847

E: alastair.henry@citypress.co.uk

Article Footnotes

Notes to Editors:

  1. LDC is part of the Lloyds Banking Group and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
  2. LDC back ambitious management teams from UK-based companies seeking between £2m and £100m of equity for management buy-outs, institutional buy-outs or development capital transactions.
  3. LDC invests in a broad range of sectors and has particular experience in Construction & Property, Financial Services, Healthcare, Industrials, Retail & Consumer, TMT, Travel & Leisure and Support Services.
  4. LDC has a UK regional network of 8 offices.
  5. For further information visit www.ldc.co.uk

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