Woof! Waud launches Heart + Paw veterinary platform

  • Waud commits $100 mln to veterinary platform
  • Management, led by CEO Bradley, includes ex-Banfield execs
  • Initial focus on Northeast, Mid-Atlantic

True to its word, Chicago’s Waud Capital Partners is getting into the veterinary-care business through newly launched Heart + Paw.

The growth-oriented middle-market PE shop has partnered with industry veteran Vincent Bradley, who will serve as CEO of the platform. Waud has committed $100 million of equity capital to support the Philadelphia platform.

Heart + Paw intends to build a network of more than 200 sites in coming years, with an initial focus on the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. Its first location is expected to open in early 2019.

Heart + Paw will offer vet care, grooming, day care, boarding and retail, among other services.

Bradley is former chief of Banfield Pet Hospital, the world’s largest general vet group, which is owned by the parent of Snickers candy bars, Mars.

Other key executives joining Heart + Paw include COO Teresa Fox and Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. George Melillo, both of whom also held previous senior management roles at Banfield.

Tom Bohn, CEO of North American Veterinary Community, serves as a founding member of Heart + Paw. The NAVC provides vets and support staff with continuing education, forums and other services.

Reeve Waud, founder and managing partner of Waud Capital, told Buyouts earlier this year that the firm expected to announce two additional platform initiatives, emphasizing the firm’s interests in veterinary care, home health and specialty pharmacy niches.

The firm in August made an initial commitment of over $100 million in connection with its effort in home care, partnering with the former COO of Jordan Health Services.

Four months prior, in April, Waud announced the formation of Pharmacy Partners Holdings, a specialty pharmacy platform, teaming up with former Express Scripts executive Sean Donnelly.

In other anticipated investment, Waud is nearing a deal to buy Texas Digestive Disease Consultants, sources familiar with the matter told Buyouts in July. The anticipated transaction would mark private equity’s second move into the gastroenterology specialty after Audax Private Equity.

Vet care, for its part, has remained a segment of high interest in the PE community. Among other deals in the works, specialty vet hospital group Ethos Veterinary Health is working with Western Reserve Partners, a unit of Citizens Capital, on a sales process, Buyouts reported in September.

Action Item: Read Buyouts’ Q&A with Waud Capital Founder Reeve Waud: https://bit.ly/2PduTmU