Collins Acquisitions brokers $28m deal

Collins Acquisitions has brokered Victoria’s largest private group to G8 Education.

CHILDCARE specialist G8 Education has taken the reins at 16 centres established by late Australian football legend Jim Stynes after settling a $28 million deal, the company’s largest purchase to date.

The centres have been operated by Pacific Early Learning Group, associated with Stynes and a partner, Hugh Ellis, who established their first centre in 2005.

Stynes, who was committed to helping young Australians, died on March 20 after a three-year battle with melanoma.

Gold Coast-based G8 Education unveiled the Pacific Group deal on September 24 and announced its settlement yesterday.

It said 14 of the centres were in Melbourne, “where G8 is rapidly expanding its footprint” and two in Queensland.

The company said the $28 million price-tag represented four times anticipated earnings before interest and tax for the coming 12 months.

Managing director Chris Scott said the deal, funded from cash reserves, was the largest in value to be undertaken by G8 Education.

He said it added 1492 places, or an average of 93 per cent, to the national tally of the company which stood at 11,575 across 150 centres after its last acquisition — seven centres in Sydney, bought for $9.2 million in October.

“We see Pacific Group as a particularly significant acquisition as it adds 25 per cent to consensus broker EBIT forecasts in a single transaction,” he said.

Mr Scott said G8 Education would remain focused on acquisition for as long as childcare businesses could be bought at fair value.

It is understood Mr Ellis chose not to remain in childcare after the death of his business partner.

Pacific Group brands included Pelican, Armadillo and Penguin childcare and early learning centres, and it employed 270 staff.

Stynes was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1966 and was brought to Australia in the mid-1980s under a program to recruit Irish footballers for Melbourne Football Club, of which he was chairman from 2008.

He played his first senior game in 1987 and retired in 1998 after playing in 264 matches and becoming the only non-Australian-born VFL/AFL player to win the Brownlow Medal, which he won in 1991.

After quitting the sport, he was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame.

In 1994 he co-founded with film director Paul Currie The Reach Foundation, a non-profit organisation committed to people aged eight to 18.

Honours bestowed on Stynes for his community work included Melburnian of the Year (2010), Order of Australia and Churchill Fellowship (2007), and Victorian of the Year (2001 and 2003).