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Phoenix Equity Partners sells Acorn Care to Canadian pension fund

2 Feb 2010

UK mid-market private equity firm Phoenix Equity Partners has agreed to sell Acorn Care and Education to Teachers’ Private Capital, the private investment arm of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. The deal value was not disclosed but has been estimated at $245m by the Financial Times, with Phoenix making a four times return.

Acorn operates ten schools for children with special needs and an independent foster care agency. Phoenix invested in the company in March 2005 alongside Acorn chairman Kevin McNeany. In the past five years the company has made 13 acquisitions, taking Acorn from two to ten schools and creating the Fostering Solutions brand. Acorn schools provide care and education for more than 550 pupils, while Fostering Solutions manages more than 950 foster placements from its 14 offices around the UK.

James Thomas, managing partner of Phoenix, said, “By investing substantial growth capital since 2005, and by working hard alongside Acorn’s excellent management team, we have together succeeded in establishing Acorn in its leading position. We wish the management team and Teachers every success in the next phase of the company’s development.”

The company was acquired by Ontario Teachers’ London arm, which carries out private equity investments across Europe.

Erol Uzumeria, senior vice president of Teachers’ Private Capital, said, ”We execute direct private equity investments all over the world. We believe our long-term decision to be close to markets and opportunities in the UK and Europe through our London office will help us continue to find good opportunities in these regions, as this transaction demonstrates.”

Phoenix targets mid-market investments in companies valued at between £20m ($32.6m) and £200m ($326m), focusing on the business services, consumer, retail, financial services, healthcare and education, industrial and media sectors.

Ontario Teachers’ has CAN$87.4bn ($84.3bn) under management.

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