Partou, the largest provider of high-quality childcare in the Netherlands, has chosen a Dutch socially-responsible investment fund as its new owner in this phase of its existence. The current minority shareholder Waterland has set up a dedicated, sustainability-focused fund for this purpose. This commits them to Partou for the longer term. The shares held by the Canadian co-owner Onex will also be transferred to this new fund, and as a result, Partou will be fully Dutch owned. In recent years, Partou has developed into a high-quality childcare organisation, that is valued and rated as above average by parents, employees and independent institutes.
The new fund managed by Waterland is a logical next step. It is a so-called Article 8 ESG fund, making it one of the first of its kind in Europe. The fund must comply with the strict European rules of the SFDR (Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation). Therefore, environmental and social aspects will always be considered explicitly in investment decisions. Partou will have to maintain a high level of transparency regarding its practice of good governance and socially-responsible behaviour. Through its annual Social Responsibility Report, Partou already reports extensively on these aspects. The existing prudent, external financing via a consortium, of which Rabobank is a member, will also be transferred to the fund.
Contributing to a sustainable future
By offering high-quality childcare, we are investing in new generations. With the help of the current shareholders, Partou has been able to invest significantly in improving quality, better training and support of employees, and new, modern and safe locations, making Partou one of the undisputed leaders of Dutch childcare. Parents rate Partou with a solid eight and give a high nine for the contribution that the pedagogical staff make to the development of their children.
Jeanine Lemmens, CEO Partou: “Waterland’s new fund fits well with this next phase of our organisation, which fulfils an important societal role. I am grateful to the departing investor Onex for their support and trust in the past years and look forward to the continued cooperation with the Dutch Waterland. Nothing will change for employees, parents and children, except that there will be even more focus on the sustainable care and development of each child. Our aim is to make our childcare facilities carbon-neutral, because with more than 700 locations we can make a significant contribution to the health and living environment of future generations.”
Tomas Simons, Partner at Waterland and chairman of its ESG committee: “Partou has strongly and convincingly proven its social pioneering role in the childcare sector in recent years. Waterland, too, wants to demonstrate its role as a responsible investor. The establishment of one of the first European Article 8 ESG funds is a concrete expression of this. Together with Partou, we have the ambition to introduce new standards in terms of ESG in childcare, to continuously increase the quality of service. Based on the new coalition agreement, the demand for childcare will increase, while capacity is already insufficient. Partou can and wants to contribute to solutions for this challenge by investing in training new staff and opening new locations to bring down waiting lists for parents, also in more vulnerable neighbourhoods.”
The transfer to the new fund is subject to approval by the works council, trade unions, ACM and AFM.