17 Dec 2008

ABC early childhood centres up for sale

7:47 pm on 17 December 2008

Nearly 130 early childhood education centres in New Zealand are being put up for sale by the receiver for their Australian owner.

The parent company of ABC Developmental Learning Centres - ABC Learning Centres in Australia - got into financial trouble after becoming heavily in debt.

The New Zealand centres cater for 8,000 children aged from six weeks to five years.

The sale was advertised on Wednesday by Australian receivership company McGrath Nicol.

ABC Developmental Learning Centres Ltd has emailed parents of children who attend the centres to tell them about the sale, saying the New Zealand company is being sold as a stand-alone business, separate from the Australian parent.

All 127 learning centres and the NZ College of Early Childhood Education in Christchurch are affected.

The company says it does not envisage any centres being closed.

Teachers union the New Zealand Education Institute says the sale will create a lot of stress for workers and parents.

Union secretary Paul Goulter says the matter needs to be resolved as soon as possible, not just for workers but for the parents of the thousands of children cared for at ABC centres.

Mr Goulter says it is vital the New Zealand centres are not sold off individually but as a going concern.

He says the Australian solution, where only profitable centres are being kept open, must not be followed in New Zealand.