Ontario Teachers buys Brit business Busy Bees

The Canadian pension plan’s direct investing arm aims to support the UK nursery group in making childcare services more widely available through developing new locations and buying other facilities.

Teachers Private Capital, the private equity direct investment arm of Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, has acquired Busy Bees Nursery Group, one of the largest childcare providers in the UK.

Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed, although the deal is reportedly worth about £220 million ($352 million; €260 million). The company’s management team will retain a significant minority stake, according to a statement. 

GE Capital, an alternative finance provider to the mid-market, is providing senior debt for the acquisition. 

As part of the package, an additional debt facility has been put in place to support the business’ future acquisition strategy and new site roll-out plans, to help drive its future growth, GE Capital said in a statement.  

Busy Bees, established in 1983, operates 213 nurseries. It currently has 7000 staff and provides care for 20,000 children in the UK. It’s an “outstanding business with good growth potential”, according to Jo Taylor, TPC vice-president and head of Teachers’ London office. 

“We look forward to supporting [Busy Bees'] efforts to make its childcare services more widely available through developing new locations and acquiring other facilities,” he said. 

TPC's activities include leading or partnering with other GPs on direct deals, while also investing in private equity funds in markets and sectors that it cannot efficiently access directly, according to a statement. Its portfolio is valued at approximately $12 billion. 

TPC has a team of more than 40 investment professionals. Since inception, it has invested in more than 300 companies and funds and deployed more than $23 billion in capital, according to the firm’s website.