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Bright Horizons acquires LDC’s kidsunlimited for GBP45m

Bright Horizons Family Solutions, a 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 GBP45m.

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 provider of 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 US, the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Canada and India, including more than 130 Fortune 500 companies.
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 GBP41.4m (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. Houghton joined the business last year from LDC and has left the business on completion.
Ros Marshall, chief executive of kidsunlimited, says: "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.”
David Lissy, chief executive of Bright Horizons, says: “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.”
Jonathan Robinson of DWF provided legal advice to the vendors and due diligence support was given by Jodi Birkett of Deloitte.

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