Lyceum exits nurseries business(2)

Mid-market private equity firm Lyceum Capital has completed a successful exit from UK nurseries business Asquith, after boosting earnings by 200 percent and increasing the workforce by more than half.

London-based Lyceum Capital has sold Asquith Nurseries, one of the UK’s biggest operators of children’s day nurseries, to Dawnay Day Principal Investments and Swordfish Investments for £95 million (€141 million, $190 million).

Lyceum bought Asquith Court, a combined schools and nurseries business, for £66 million in May 2001. The buyout firm developed Asquith Schools into the UK’s biggest independent owner and operator of day preparatory schools before selling it to Cognita in November 2004.

Under Lyceum’s ownership, Asquith Nurseries has increased its number of employees by more than 50 percent to 2,500, while its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation has grown by more than 200 percent.

Lyceum also recruited key members of Asquith’s management team – including chief executive Russell Ford, former managing director of the Iceland Group, and chief operating officer Andrew Morris, former European managing director of Calumet.

Lyceum’s other investments in the sector include elderly care homes company Southern Cross, which was sold to The Blackstone Group for £167 million in 2004, and home healthcare business Clinovia, which was sold to BUPA in December for £88 million.

Lyceum Capital Fund I has now returned £305 million to fund investors and co-investors (or 165 percent of invested capital) from five of the nine platform investments made.

Dawnay Day Principal Investments is the private equity arm of financial and property company Dawnay Day, and specialises in asset-backed deals.