The next big player in pet health… Mars?
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The next big player in pet health… Mars?

The next big player in the fast-growing pet health sector looks like its going to be Mars. As in, the bar, not the planet. If that sounds strange, you haven’t been paying enough attention to the press around our furry friends: pet care is big business, and multinationals want in! Mars is the latest of these, and (according to British newspaper The Times) it may have another acquisition target in mind: British pet care specialist CVS Group.

Pet care holdings in the fund are having a great year so far

graph 0907 mars

SOURCE: Yahoo Finance

CVS is one of a handful of players that are looking to consolidate the independent veterinary care market. Its latest ambition is to turn a former pub in Thirsk into a 24-hour pet hospital. However, a flurry of activity from Mars has gotten some people thinking that the latter might want to buy the former. Mars might be best known as a confectionary brand, but it’s had its eyes on pet care ever since 1935, when it debuted its pet food business.

Mars Petcare, as the relevant division is known, has been aggressive over the last few months. The company acquired Anicura (a Swedish provider) for €2 billion, and Linnaeus (a British company) for an undisclosed sum. These acquisitions are part of a strategy to push into Europe, which Mars Petcare’s president, Poul Weihrauch, describes as the “next natural step.” He elaborated: “As the second largest region in the world for pet care, European pet care is expected to grow significantly.”

Mars, which owns Whiskers cat food amongst other things, could well be on a shopping spree. Peel Hunt analyst Charles Hall said: “We would expect Mars to aim to be No 1 in Europe and see these two deals as the first steps. Mars will probably continue to add individual businesses to add scale to Linnaeus, and having bought Anicura will probably look to acquire another of the majors to achieve its overall ambitions. Mars is not afraid of paying up, having paid $7.7 billion for VCA Antech, the largest US vet care business, last year.”

Will CVS Group be next? Only time will tell…

Disclosure

Dominion holds CVS Group in its Global Trends Luxury Fund.


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