Babilou picks up majority stake in pre-school chain Amelio
Photo Credit: Shah Junaid/VCCircle

Europe’s largest childcare group Babilou has acquired a majority stake in pre-school and day-care chain Amelio Early Education.

According to a press statement, Babilou made an undisclosed investment in the Chennai-based company, run by Amelio Child Care Pvt. Ltd, to establish its presence and rapidly increase its footprint in India over the long-term. The financial details of the deal could, however, not be immediately ascertained.

“We will use the knowledge and scale of Babilou’s international experience to further expand the market and enhance our offering,” said Amelio founder Sridevi Raghavan.

Launched in 2008 by Raghavan, a Harvard Business School graduate, the school chain operates 14 centres under the Amelio brand with the help of around 220 employees. The company claims to be catering to the needs of nearly 1,200 parents.

“We have been very impressed by the high-quality standards offered by Amelio’s programmes and teams. We are also very excited about our plans for India,” said Babilou Group co-founder Rodolphe Carle.

Founded in 2003 by Rodolphe and Edouard Carle, Babilou represents a network of over 500 childcare centres across eight countries, including Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the UAE. The centres include day-care centres, nursery clubs and nursery schools.

India’s pre-school or child care market has witnessed interests from private equity players in recent times, but there is a lot of potential in the largely unorganised sector.

The organised segment of the market accounts for only 22% and is expected to grow to 29% by 2020, according to a report by CRISIL. The current size of the market is Rs 9,900 crore, which is expected to grow to Rs 22,000 crore by 2020.

School chain operator Zee Learn Ltd, part of media baron Subash Chandra-led Essel Group, will take control of education services company MT Educare Ltd, in possibly the biggest acquisition in India’s offline education sector.

Zee Learn had also made an attempt to acquire Mumbai-based Tree House Education and Accessories Ltd, which runs preschool chain Tree House. However, it decided to scrap the deal after media reports said that Tree House was closing down ‘hundreds’ of its playgroup centres as a result of its worsening financials.

Other acquisitions in the education sector include the taking over of Kangaroo Kids Education Ltd by school chain buying EuroKids International Pvt. Ltd.

The day care category, on the other hand, has not seen too many big transactions. In February 2017, day care chain IPSAA Holdings Pvt. Ltd had bought a controlling stake in Mumbai-based Integrated Childcare Pvt. Ltd for an undisclosed amount.

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