York-based VetPartners aims for European expansion

Jo Malone CEO of VetPartners from York
Jo Malone CEO of VetPartners from York
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A YORKSHIRE-based veterinary group aims to move into the European market after growing by acquisition in the UK

VetPartners Limited has continued its expansion with the acquisition of two equine practices. The acquisition of Liphook Equine Hospital in Liphook, Hampshire, and Rainbow Equine Hospital in Malton, North Yorkshire, will help to increase VetPartners’ market share in the equine sector.

The group, which is based in York, built up a base of nearly 70 small animal practices across England, Scotland and Wales, before moving into the equine and mixed market earlier this year.

VetPartners chief executive Jo Malone said the group, which was established in October 2015, would continue to expand its equine sector.

Former Minster Vets’ director Julian Rishworth has been appointed as VetPartners’ head of equine and the group has established a graduate development programme for its equine division.

Ms Malone said: “Liphook and Rainbow are two of the leading equine hospitals in the UK and we feel privileged they chose to join us.

“It was an active decision to move into the equine sector and we want to do that properly by attracting leading hospitals to the group and make it more appealing to other equine practices who want to be part of a bigger group.

“Expanding our equine sector will have huge advantages for practices from a career development point of view.”

She added: “Our collaborative approach across the group will also enable us to share the expertise, knowledge and experience of some highly talented team members at leading UK equine practices.”

A total of 83 small animal, equine and farm practices are part of VetPartners, which has 3,500 employees working across 313 sites across the UK and from its headquarters at Leeman House in York. Expansion is set to continue and VetPartners expects to have 350 sites by the end of 2018.

Last week, funds advised by BC Partners reached an agreement to acquire a majority stake in VetPartners from funds managed by the Ares Management, L.P. Credit Group, August Equity and co-investors.

Ares will reinvest alongside BC Partners and the management team, led by Ms Malone, will also invest in the company.

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Jean-Baptiste Wautier, Managing Partner at BC Partners, commented: “We have tremendous respect for Jo and her team and what they have achieved so far.

“VetPartners is a unique business whose rapid growth in recent years is a clear indication of the future potential for the company.

“We look forward to partnering with Jo, her team and Ares to help VetPartners pursue an ambitious growth strategy, fuelled by organic growth, M&A (mergers and acquisitions) and the opportunity to expand into new geographies in Europe.”

Ms Malone, added: “We are thrilled that BC Partners are supporting us during the next phase of our growth.”

BC Partners was advised by Linklaters and Dickson Minto on legal documentation and due-diligence, PWC on financial, commercial and tax due diligence and Kirkland & Ellis on financing.

Barclays served as adviser to Ares, August Equity and management, supported by Hogan Lovells (Ares) and DLA (August Equity) on legal, KPMG on financial, and Kirkland & Ellis on tax matters.