Busy Bees marks fifth exit in six weeks for Gresham

Gresham Private Equity, which specializes in UK mid-market private equity, is on a role lately and Busy Bees is the group’s fifth successful exit in the past six weeks. The group has recently taken profits on Whitworths, Blue Group, Individual Restaurant Company, Target Express and now Busy Bees.

Busy Bees was bought by the Australian company ABC Learning Centres in a deal worth £71m. Gresham generated a return of 3.6x on the investment.

Gresham established a debt and equity funding package totaling a potential £50m. Of this, £27m had been drawn down by the time of exit.

Busy Bees two principle operating businesses, are Busy Bees Nurseries and Busy Bees Childcare Vouchers.

The nursery business operates from 46 centres across the UK and voucher business is the 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.

Since Gresham’s initial investment in February 2000 the business has expanded rapidly organically and by acquisition.

James Barbour-Smith, who led the exit at Gresham 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 in both nurseries and childcare vouchers.”