Nord Anglia springs on Leapfrog for £60m

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The Independent Online

Leapfrog, THE children's nursery and child care company that was planning to list on the stock market, was yesterday jumped on by Nord Anglia, the education group, for £60m.

Hugh Osmond, the serial entrepreneur, was also thought to be interested in taking over Leapfrog, which is the biggest chain of nurseries in 39 outlets. But Nord, which has an existing nursery business and also operates private schools in the UK and for expatriates around the world, secured the deal after five weeks of bidding. It will fund the acquisition through a £23m share placing.

Sue Husbands set up Leapfrog in 1998 after she had difficulty finding day care for her own children. A number of venture capitalists bought out the company three years ago and had considered a flotation then. Market conditions forced the owners, who include UBS Capital and European Acquisition Capital, to shelve flotation plans but they had recently been resurrected.

The deal will double Nord's market capitalisation and take its total number of nurseries to 73. Andrew Fitzmaurice, the chief executive of Nord, hopes to build its share of the fast-growing child care market. The company also works with the Government to provide educational and training courses in the public sector.

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