Mars to buy pet hospital network for $7.7 billion
MARS is buying pet hospital operator VCA for $7.7 billion (R105bn) in a deal that will tighten the Whiskas and Pedigree pet food maker’s grip on the pet care market.
The deal will help privately held Mars, better known for candies such as M&Ms and Snickers, add about 800 pet hospitals to its network of more than 900 clinics, which includes the 61-year-old Banfield pet hospital chain.
The combination of Mars Petcare and VCA will dominate the veterinary care industry in the US, grabbing an even bigger share of the nearly $4bn global pet care market.
Virginia-based Mars is already the biggest pet food company in the world – it held a quarter of the global pet food market as of 2015 – followed by Nestlé, the maker of the Purina cat and dog food brand.
Mars has been diversifying its business as calorie-conscious consumers increasingly shun chocolates and candies, a trend that has weighed on the $183bn global confectionery market.
Mars said it would offer $93 per share, a premium of 31.4 percent to VCA’s Friday closing price.