JAB Holding Co. has agreed to buy a majority stake in National Veterinary Associates for an undisclosed price, the companies announced this June in a joint statement, marking the German-owned firm's second major investment in the U.S. pet care sector this year.
Founded in 1996 by Dr. Stanley Creighton, National Veterinary Associates is one of the world's largest veterinary and pet care service companies. It is the owner-operator of more than 670 veterinary hospitals and 70 pet resorts in 43 states, as well as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and employs 2,500 veterinarians and 4,000 other staff members.
In February, JAB bought Compassion-First Pet Hospitals for $1.2 billion. Compassion-First operates specialty, emergency, and general practice veterinary hospitals in a dozen states.
The NVA purchase puts JAB more directly in competition with Mars Inc. Mars not only is one of the world's biggest sellers of pet food with its Pedigree, Iams, and Royal Canin brands, but also has been acquiring veterinary clinic chains in recent years, purchasing VCA Animal Hospitals for $9.1 billion in 2017 and AniCura Holding AB in Europe last year.
Companion animal practices are seen as a relatively safe investment offering respectable returns. Pet care spending in 2018 reached a record high of $72.56 billion, compared with $69.51 billion in 2017, an increase of over 4%, according to the American Pet Products Association. Veterinary care spending accounted for the second-highest source of spending in the pet care industry at $18.11 billion, surpassing growth in all other categories with an increase of 6.1% from 2017.
NVA is being sold by the private equity group of Ares Management and its minority partner OMERS Private Equity to JAB Investors—an investment vehicle comprised of JAB Consumer Fund and JAB Holding.
JAB Holding is owned by the Reimann family—one of the wealthiest families in the world, according to Forbes. The company has a controlling interest in several food and beverage companies, including Einstein Bros. Bagels, Keurig Dr Pepper, and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.
While no financial details of the NVA purchase were disclosed, JAB said in a statement that NVA's senior management team, including chief executive Greg Hartmann, will maintain "significant minority ownership" and would continue to lead the company.
"We are excited to partner with the NVA community for the long-term as they continue building a global platform and leading the industry in innovation and quality of service," said David Bell, a partner at JAB Investors.
Related JAVMA content:
Investment firm buys stake in veterinary clinic chain (April 15, 2019)
The corporatization of veterinary medicine (Dec. 1, 2018)