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Keywords:

  • marketisation;
  • child care;
  • opco-propco;
  • PPP;
  • government subsidies

Abstract

The marketisation of early childhood education and care (ECEC) offers opportunities to test assumptions about the benefits of a market framework. In Australia, where marketisation included reshaping, extending, and increasing government subsidies, one major listed company (ABC Learning Limited) emerged to dominate child care. Child care prices increased rapidly to become an election issue, and government subsidies increased. ABC acknowledged its economic dependence on government policy and subsidies. Until its collapse in 2008, ABC was the world's largest listed child care operator, and operating internationally. ABC's structured business model separated child care properties (propco) from child care operations (opco). ABC was the opco and leased the child care properties from propcos. As ABC grew and replicated its structured model to other forms of property including intangible assets, the rising child care prices and government subsidies supported a growing array of other enterprises all seeking profitable operations. This paper explains the structured opco-propco model, identifies its interaction with accounting and lessons to be learned from marketisation.