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Mars is buying a pet health company for $9.1 billion

Portia Crowe
VCA

(VCA Specialty Vets)
The candy- and pet-food-maker Mars Inc. is buying the animal hospital company VCA Inc. for $93 a share, or about $9.1 billion, including $1.4 billion in debt.

VCA's stock was up about 30% in premarket trading.

Morgan Stanley and BDT advised Mars on the deal, which is subject to shareholder and regulatory approval and is expected to close in the third quarter. Barclays advised VCA.

BDT is the boutique advisory firm led by Byron Trott, a former Goldman Sachs partner who has been called Warren Buffett's favorite banker.

"VCA is a leader across pet health care and the opportunity we see together — for pets, pet owners, veterinarians and other pet care providers — is tremendous," Mars CEO Grant Reid said in a statement.

VCA will operate as its own business within Mars Petcare.

Here's the press release:

MCLEAN, Va. and LOS ANGELES, Jan. 9, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Mars, Incorporated and VCA Inc. (NASDAQ: WOOF) today announced that they have entered an agreement under which Mars will acquire all of the outstanding shares of VCA for $93 per share, or a total value of approximately $9.1 billion including $1.4 billion in outstanding debt. The transaction price represents a premium of approximately 41 percent over VCA's 30-day volume weighted average price on January 6, 2017, and a premium of approximately 31 percent over VCA's closing price on January 6, 2017. The agreement has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies.

VCA joins Mars Petcare, one of the world's leading pet care providers. Pet care has been an important part of Mars for over 80 years. The transaction reaffirms Mars' commitment to the pet care industry and the veterinary profession, and once completed will help drive Mars Petcare's purpose to create A Better World for Pets. Mars Petcare's portfolio of Veterinary Services businesses includes BANFIELD® Pet Hospital, BLUEPEARL® and PET PARTNERS™. Together with VCA, these businesses will provide an unprecedented level of access to high quality veterinary care for pets, from wellness and prevention to primary, emergency and specialty care. Mars Petcare is already an industry leader in pet nutrition with global brands that include ROYAL CANIN®, PEDIGREE® and WHISKAS®. Mars has a growing business in pet DNA testing through the WISDOM PANEL®, and in 2015 also acquired pet technology provider WHISTLE.

"We are thrilled to welcome VCA to the Mars family and to our portfolio of brands and businesses around the world," said Mars Chief Executive Officer Grant F. Reid. "VCA is a leader across pet health care and the opportunity we see together—for pets, pet owners, veterinarians and other pet care providers —is tremendous. We have great respect for VCA, with whom we share many common values and a strong commitment to pet care. Together, we will be able to provide even greater value, better service and higher quality care to pets and pet owners."

Since its founding in 1986, VCA has grown from one facility in Los Angeles to nearly 800 animal hospitals with 60 diagnostic laboratories throughout the United States and Canada. Through organic growth and a series of acquisitions, VCA has become one of the largest and most diverse pet healthcare companies, operating across four divisions including veterinary services, laboratory diagnostics, imaging equipment and medical technology, and pet care services.

"Joining the Mars family of brands provides significant value to our stockholders while also preserving the Company's values and a culture focused on investing in our people and facilities to promote excellence in pet care and long-term growth," said VCA Chief Executive Officer Bob Antin. "Mars has a long-standing commitment to pet health, wellness and nutrition. We will work together every day to continue to provide the quality care and excellent service VCA is known for to our clients and their pet families."

"We have always been impressed by VCA and the excellent services it offers to pets across diverse business segments," said Mars Global Petcare President Poul Weihrauch. "VCA's industry-leading partnerships with veterinarians and pet care providers together with its expertise in veterinary services, diagnostics and technology will position Mars to deliver accessible, quality care and continue to create a better world for pets. VCA's philosophy of partnering with the veterinary profession and educational institutions is aligned with our core values and culture. We look forward to together providing the best care possible for pets."

As one of the world's leading pet care providers, Mars Petcare is committed to attracting, developing and retaining the best veterinarians and pet care professionals in the world, supporting them in their efforts to provide cutting edge delivery of healthcare to pets and to advancing the profession.

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