Mars doubles down on pet care with $7.7 billion acquisition

by Monica Watrous
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Mars confectionery
Mars' pet care segment will now eclipse its chocolate and gum business.

MCLEAN, VA. — Mars Inc. has entered an agreement to acquire all of the outstanding shares of pet health care company VCA Inc. for $93 per share, or a total value of approximately $9.1 billion including $1.4 billion in outstanding debt. With the addition of VCA, the company’s pet care segment will account for more than half of total sales, eclipsing its chocolate and gum business, which includes such brands as M&M’s, Snickers, Skittles and Doublemint.

The deal strengthens Mars’ commitment to pet care, which has been a part of the privately held business for 80 years, with a portfolio of veterinary service businesses including Banfield Pet Hospital, Bluepearl and Pet Partners, as well as pet nutrition brands such as Royal Canin, Pedigree and Whiskas. Founded in 1986, VCA has grown to nearly 800 animal hospitals with 60 diagnostic laboratories through the United States and Canada.

Grant Reid, Mars Inc.
Grant Reid, c.e.o. of Mars

“We are thrilled to welcome VCA to the Mars family and to our portfolio of brands and businesses around the world,” said Grant F. Reid, Mars chief executive officer. “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.”

Upon completion of the transaction, VCA will operate as a separate business unit within Mars Petcare and will continue to be led by Bob Antin, c.e.o., president, chairman and founder. The company’s headquarters will remain in Lost Angeles.

VCA Inc. pet care, Mars
Mars plans to acquire VCA Inc. for approximately $9.1 billion.

The transaction, which is subject to certain customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, is expected to close in the third quarter.

With net sales of more than $35 billion, Mars currently operates six business segments including Petcare, Chocolate, Wrigley, Food, Drinks and Symbioscience. The company this past October announced plans to combine its Mars Chocolate and Wrigley segments to create a new entity, Mars Wrigley Confectionery. The combination is proposed to be phased in during 2017 and will include 14 brands with headquarters in Chicago. 
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