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With Barclays at its side, VCA Inc. is poised to forge new synergies between the animal healthcare and pet nutrition sectors.

Growing a business in the animal kingdom

“VCA is a company with a very proud history and clear mission,” notes Jed Brody, Barclays’ Co-Head of Healthcare M&A. “They built something special,” Brody adds. Still, the company — the largest family of animal-care providers in the U.S. — had a looming challenge: How to continue to grow and break into even more sectors of the animal market, while remaining a company rooted in its deep love for pets.

Founded in 1986, VCA has managed to achieve overwhelming growth over 32 years. From owning one animal hospital in West Los Angeles, VCA now operates more than 850 hospitals across the United States and Canada. The company has also diversified, acquiring other companies: Antech, the largest North American clinical laboratory system for vets; Eklin Medical Systems (now Sound Technologies), a diagnostic imaging company; and Camp Bow Wow, a 152-franchise dog care center. 

Still to grow even further, VCA needed to evaluate its long-term strategic options, weighing a number of factors, from the potential benefit to shareholders, to the timing of a deal, to the state of the global pet healthcare market.

Ultimately, VCA called upon Barclays’ financial advice as it assessed its options, advising VCA on a deal in which the company would be acquired by Mars, Inc. for $9.1 billion. The acquisition was completed in September 2017. 

A new type of synergy

“Bob just didn’t have the resources to expand VCA internationally,” Brody explains. But by helping VCA combine with Mars, Barclays enabled the company to achieve entrée into many more countries. Mars, in turn, has become the largest operator of animal hospitals in the U.S.

The acquisition also connects VCA with the pet nutrition provided by Mars. Best known for its chocolates, Mars, Inc. also manufactures chewing gums, coffees, teas, and staples such as rice . . . and pet food, ranging from treats to wholesome meals. Plus, the company also operates its own chains of pet hospitals and testing facilities. 

VCA is a business built around veterinarians and providing them the tools to provide higher clinical care for pets. Pet nutrition will be an increasingly important component of clinical care for pets and Mars has a specialty in developing that.
Jed Brody, Barclays’ Co-Head of Healthcare M&A

The acquisition of VCA by Mars would prove to be a strong collaboration. Through it, Barclays’ team of experts, well versed in the animal healthcare sector, orchestrated the transaction to ensure it delivered a positive outcome for all — most importantly, for the benefit of pets and those who love them.


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Animal healthcare: The future belongs to the four-legged

Barclays' Jed Brody, Co-Head of Healthcare M&A, provides an outlook of the pet healthcare market.

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