An investment fund causes a “putsch” within the People & Baby private daycare group

An investment fund causes a “putsch” within the People & Baby private daycare group

This is an event revealing the exposure of French private daycare groups to the risks of globalized capitalism, while their economic model is currently the subject of a commission of inquiry at the National Assembly. Monday April 22, Christophe Durieux, the president of People & Baby (around 600 establishments and 11,000 children welcomed in France), was let go from the company he founded in 2004 with his partner Odile Broglin, through an intervention of their main credit, the Alcentra investment fund, now a subsidiary of the American fund Franklin Templeton.

The couple was, however, the sole shareholder until Thursday April 18. To understand, we must look back at the recent history of the group and the dreams of grandeur of its founders. In 2018, to develop internationally, the company (whose turnover in 2017 was 68.9 million euros) approached the British investment fund Alcentra, which opened a line of credit. , releasing successive tranches for a total amount of nearly 500 million euros, excluding interest.

The group is growing rapidly, mainly through acquisitions. This allows it to today claim its presence in Canada, the United States, Luxembourg, Italy, Belgium, China, Singapore, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. “And we are the number one nursery in Dubai”underlines Mr. Durieux.

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A first hitch survives during the Covid-19 crisis. “While we were in a very difficult situation, with our establishments closed around the world, the fund demanded that we still pay 4 million euros in interest. What we have done “, he indicates. For him, the turning point comes at the end of 2022, when Alcentra is bought by the American fund Franklin Templeton. “They then refused to disburse the last planned tranche of 12.9 million euros on the pretext that we had exceeded our debt ratio of 0.1%. Even though we had already committed this money. They did not respect our agreements”, estimates Mr. Durieux, who stops paying interest on the debt.

The cash flow dried up quickly, going into the red at the end of 2023. Cornered, the founders accepted, in exchange for the release of 2.5 million euros to pay salaries (the group employs 6,000 people in France, 10 000 worldwide), to grant Alcentra-Franklin Templeton a “preferred share”: it allows them to acquire 75% of the voting rights at once if they deem it necessary.

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Mattie B. Jiménez

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