Nursery provider keeps busy on international acquisition trail

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The UK’s largest early childhood education and nursery provider Busy Bees has bought New Zealand-based Provincial Education Group and completed the acquisition of Australian childcare provider Think Childcare.

Founded in 1983 in Burntwood, Busy Bees Group is majority-owned by Canadian-based Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and cares for over 75,000 children.

The acquisition of Provincial Education from majority shareholder Waterman Private Capital, Ascentro Capital and its founders marks Busy Bees entry into New Zealand, and is expected to complete at the end of October.

With 75 centres and more than 5,500 places in locations across the North and South Islands, Provincial Education is the third largest early childcare education provider in New Zealand. Provincial Education’s management team will be joining Busy Bees.

In addition to the acquisition of Provincial Education, Busy Bees is also expanding its footprint in mainland Australia as it announces the completion of the Think Childcare acquisition, which comprises 71 centres and more than 7,100 places.

This is a significant step in Busy Bees’ rapid growth across the globe with more than 850 centres worldwide, including Europe (417), North America (127) Asia (83) and Australia and New Zealand (222).

Chief executive of Busy Bees Australia & New Zealand Robert Hughes said: “Our global mission is to give children the best start in life. It is a great step to be welcoming Provincial Education into the Busy Bees family as our first expansion into New Zealand.  We have a shared commitment with the Provincial Education management team to providing the highest quality care and education, and a strong alignment around values.”

“Think Childcare is a high-quality business and offers Busy Bees a compelling opportunity and platform for growth, while continuing to strengthen our global portfolio and bring further talent into the Busy Bees business. We are delighted to welcome the families, the staff and most of all the children into the Busy Bees family.”

Busy Bees Group chief executive Simon Irons, added “Busy Bees intends to become the leading early years educator in Australia and New Zealand. We remain  focused on community based centres of high quality that give their children the best start in life.

“We are delighted to continue to back a strong local management team, led by regional CEO Robert Hughes, and I am delighted that with the acquisitions of Provincial Education and Think Childcare we take a significant step forward towards realising our ambitions, and have added talented colleagues to our business.

“The Think acquisition was public to private and closing it reflects well our team’s capability to handle complex transactions.”