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Kidsunlimited sold to US firm in deal worth £45m

Nursery and workplace childcare provider Kidsunlimited has been sold to US firm Bright Horizon Family Solutions in a deal worth £45 million.

Kidsunlimited, headquartered in Cheshire, operates 64 nurseries and has facilities at numerous blue-chip employers including WH Smith and the University of Oxford.

Husband and wife, Jean and Stewart Pickering, founded the company in 1983. Private equity firm LDC backed a secondary buyout of the business in 2008 following an earlier investment by ISIS in 2001.

Bright Horizons has more than 850 clients across the US, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, the Netherlands and India.

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.

Ros Marshall, chief executive of Kidsunlimited, said, "Joining forces with Bright Horizons creates an excellent opportunity for the business and our people, as well as our parents and their children.”

In the year to April 2012 Kidsunlimited turned over £41.1 million. However, the company made a loss of £3.5 million, down from £4.2 million in 2011.

David Lissy, chief executive of Bright Horizons, added, “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.”

Jonathan Robinson of DWF provided legal advice to the vendors, while a team from Deloitte's Manchester office, led by partners Jodi Birkett and David O'Leary and manager Fiona Gray, provided due diligence and tax advice to Kids Unlimited on its exit from LDC.

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