The sale to EQT of NVA's VetPartners business in Australia and New Zealand is a good fit due to EQT's "strong global track record" in animal health, Mark Jeffrey, VetPartners' chief executive, said.
Swedish private equity firm EQT has cemented its status as one of the world's biggest owners of veterinary practices by agreeing to acquire National Veterinary Associates clinics in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.
The 267 general and specialty practices are held by NVA's VetPartners brand, the largest owner of veterinary practices Down Under.
NVA, based in California and owned by the German investment firm JAB, said it had sold the practices to EQT. It did not disclose the sale price. The deal remains subject to customary regulatory approvals and is expected to be wrapped up by the end of the year.
Already a giant in the veterinary realm, EQT owns United Kingdom-based IVC Evidensia and what it says are its "more than 2,500" practices in Europe and Canada alongside minority investors Nestlé and Silver Lake. Its acquisition of VetPartners will see EQT further vie with Mars Inc. as the biggest investor in veterinary practices worldwide.
Mars, based in McLean, Virginia, says it owns "2,500+" practices, through its brands VCA, Banfield and BluePearl in the United States, Linnaeus in the U.K. and AniCura in mainland Europe.
The latest deal comes as the ownership of veterinary assets becomes increasingly concentrated — though in VetPartners' case, the company is changing hands from one European private investment group, JAB, to another, EQT.
Established in 1994 and based in Stockholm, EQT has investments in more than 100 companies, spanning industries such as technology, energy, real estate and human health care. In the veterinary realm, apart from owning a controlling stake in IVC Evidensia, it has a stake in British pet insurer ManyPets, and earlier this year, it agreed to acquire veterinary drugs maker Dechra Pharmaceuticals.
"We are delighted to welcome EQT as a partner given their strong global track record in animal health and healthcare more broadly," Mark Jeffery, VetPartners chief executive, said in a press release.
VetPartners employs more than 1,300 veterinarians and more than 3,000 nurses and clinical support staff. Its chief veterinary officer, Dr. Brett Hodgkin, was quoted in the statement as saying that with EQT, the company can "drive positive change in animal outcomes" and be "an employer of choice."
The sale of VetPartners will provide a cash injection into NVA as JAB prepares to take NVA public via two planned initial public offerings in the U.S.
Earlier this year, JAB shifted NVA's 145 specialty and emergency hospitals into a separate business, Ethos Veterinary Health, while NVA held onto 1,400 locations primarily consisting of general practices, equine hospitals and boarding sites. NVA said in March that separate IPOs for each of the two businesses — Ethos and NVA — would be launched in the next "two to three years."