Petcare boom fires IVC Evidensia to rapid London IPO
Written by Hit Music Radio News on 26/01/2021
Booming investor demand to tap into the global petcare sector is propelling Europe’s biggest veterinary care business towards a blockbuster London float that could be launched within weeks.
Sky News has learnt that IVC Evidensia has pencilled in March to unveil an initial public offering that is expected to value it at up to £10bn.
Such a massive valuation would easily catapult the business into the FTSE-100 index and underline the boost that the coronavirus pandemic has given to petcare-exposed companies.
IVC Evidensia, which is part-owned by the global consumer goods giant Nestle, has hired Goldman Sachs and Jefferies to oversee the potential listing, Sky News reported in November.
An IPO is still not certain to take place, although insiders said it was now “highly likely”.
EQT, the Stockholm-based private equity firm which has backed the vetcare group’s remarkable growth, has also been assessing other options, such as a trade sale of the business or the private sale of a further stake to an external investor.
If it does float, IVC Evidensia is certain to be among the largest companies to join the London market in 2021.
The company was formed from the merger of Independent Vet Care with Evidensia, a Swedish veterinary business also owned by EQT, in 2017.
The combined group now has 19,000 employees in 11 countries across Europe, including the UK, France, Germany, Ireland and Italy.
It employs thousands of vets, and offers a wide range of services, including veterinary clinics, crematoria, animal hospitals and vet pharmacies.
Many of its services are highly profitable, and its rapid recent growth means its forecast earnings this year and next would justify a £10bn valuation, according to one source.
The company is chaired by Kate Swann, the former chief executive of high street and airport retailer WH Smith and SSP Group, the transport hub caterer, both of which have seen their finances hammered by the pandemic.
By contrast, the two companies that Ms Swann now chairs – the other is Moonpig, the online greeting cards platform, which itself is in the process of floating – have benefited from the COVID-19 crisis amid a boom in pet ownership and digital retailing.
Ms Swann brought in Steve Clarke, her successor as WH Smith chief executive, to run the vets giant earlier this year.
IVC Evidensia sold a minority stake to Nestle in 2019, forming a partnership with Purina, the Swiss-based company’s pet health and nutrition brand.
It has few London-listed peers, the main exception being CVS Group.
CVS is far smaller than its rival, however, with a market value of just under £1bn.
IVC Evidensia declined to comment.
© Sky News 2020