Blue River PetCare mulls sale in hot veterinary sector

  • Blue River owns and operates 93 veterinary hopsitals in 23 states
  • Adjusted Ebitda is north of $30 mln: sources
  • Recent vet care deals have commanded Ebitda multiples in high teens to 20x

Blue River PetCare, the Chicago-based operator of veterinary hospitals, is evaluating a sale, six sources told Buyouts.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch is offering financial advice to the independently held company, the sources said.

Two of the sources said the auction is in its late stages, while a second said an agreement is expected to be signed imminently.

The company is being marketed off of adjusted Ebitda north of $30 million, three of the sources said. Trailing 12-month Ebitda lies in the high $20-million range, another source said.

Recent transactions in the veterinary care industry have commanded Ebitda multiples in the high teens to 20x range, which, one of the people said, indicates a deal for Blue River could be valued in the ballpark of $600 million.

Led by co-founder and CEO Dan Blumenthal, Blue River owns and operates 93 veterinary hospitals across 23 states, according to its website. The consolidator of vet hospitals was founded in 2007.

The anticipated deal for Blue River follows recent large-scale activity in the vet care industry.

JAB Investors in June revealed plans to acquire one of the largest vet chains in the country, National Veterinary Associates. Financial terms weren’t disclosed, but the deal was said to command a valuation in the ballpark of $5 billion or more.

JAB only four months earlier outbid financial sponsors to take home the win for Quad-C’s Compassion First in a $1.22 billion transaction.

JAB isn’t the only active sponsor in the space. Oak Hill Capital Partners in June 2018 bought VetCor following a process that was expected to produce a valuation of more than $1.5 billion.

Around the same time, Nordic sold AniCura to Mars, making 7x its money. The deal valued the European chain at close to €2 billion ($2.36 billion) including debt.

Meanwile, KKR in late 2017 struck a deal for PetVet, marking an exit for Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and minority investors including L Catterton.

Blue River executives and a BofA representative didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Action Item: Blue River CEO Dan Blumenthal is at 312-436-1180.