Only About Children sold to US childcare provider Bright Horizons for $450 million


After taking the helm six years ago, global investment firm Bain Capital has sold Australian early childcare giant Only About Children (OAC) to US operator Bright Horizons for $450 million.

The buyout signals Bright Horizon’s foray into the Australian market and will see OAC join a vast global network of more than 1,000 childcare centres across the US, UK, Netherlands and India.

Under the agreement, OAC will receive a $300 million payment upfront, followed by a further $150 million 18 months after the deal is closed.  

“We are thrilled to join the Bright Horizons family,” OAC CEO John Burns said.

“I am very proud of the work the OAC family has accomplished over the last 20 years and very much look forward to our next chapter as part of Bright Horizons.

“We believe this partnership will allow us to leverage Bright Horizons’ leadership in the early childhood education field and enable us to further capitalize on the growth opportunities we see ahead.”

During Bain Capital’s ownership, OAC grew from 31 preschool centres to nearly 75 across New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. Of those, roughly two-thirds are located within the greater Sydney area.  

Bright Horizons, which views the move as a beachhead into the Australian market, reports the Sydney-based childcare provider generated approximately $196.7 million in revenue during the 2021 calendar year.

“We are excited to welcome Only About Children to the Bright Horizons family,” Bright Horizons CEO Stephen Kramer said.

Multinational bank Citi and law firm Herbert Smith Freehills are advising Bright Horizons, while Allens is serving as a legal advisor to Bain Capital.

“We have long been interested in Australia as an attractive market for high-quality child care, with strong demand from working parents, an established funding support system, and a long runway for growth and expansion,” Kramer said.

The Bright Horizons CEO told a conference call the acquisition would be a “great starting point” for the group in the Australian market, where the Federal Government’s programs help to “defray the costs of childcare”.

“In addition to that, there is a real focus around the quality provision in in Australia, and the regulatory regime is actually quite similar to what we see in the UK, in terms of it being very transparent and parents really being dialled into quality provision.

“Overall, as we looked at an opportunity that had 75 centres, we saw that as a tremendous opportunity for a beachhead in a country that makes a lot of sense, to begin our expansion plan in Australia.”

The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of calendar 2022, subject to certain customary closing conditions.

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