MUNICH — Private equity firm Hellman & Friedman has entered an investment agreement with Zooplus, in which the company will take over ownership of the e-commerce pet supply platform for roughly €3 billion ($3.5 billion USD), or €390 per share.
The acquisition is expected to advance Zooplus’s long-term growth and strategy goals and support its continued leadership in the European pet products market. Zooplus will benefit from Hellman & Friedman’s expertise in the pet sector, financial support and “stable ownership structure” as it looks to expand and grow.
“The fast-evolving European pet market will provide significant opportunities for players, who master the continued shift towards online, match and exceed evolving customer expectations and increase the product and service choice relevant to pet lovers,” said Dr. Cornelius Patt, chief executive officer of Zooplus. “With Hellman & Friedman, we gain additional sector expertise, hands-on support, financial flexibility and long-term focus needed to seize this unique market opportunity better and more effectively. We are convinced that the current market environment requires a clear focus on winning the category in the long run by prioritizing sustainable growth and value creating investments ahead of short- and mid-term earnings, a strategy fully backed by Hellman & Friedman.”
According to Hellman & Friedman, the €3 billion is approximately 34% above Zooplus’s all-time closing high. Once the offer is accepted and the transaction complete, the private equity plans to delist Zooplus from any stock exchanges and take the company private.
“After having independently assessed different strategic options as well as the partnership and takeover offer by Hellman & Friedman with due care, both boards regard the transaction to be in the best interest of the company and its shareholders,” said Karl-Heinz Holland, chairman of the supervisory board at Zooplus. “Therefore, we welcome the strategic partnership with Hellman & Friedman and support the offer as we believe this transaction will significantly benefit our customers, partners and employees while delivering immediate value to our shareholders.”
Zooplus is a current leader in the European online pet products space, and is poised for continued growth driven by pet humanization, product premiumization, an accelerated shift to e-commerce, and increasing pet ownership trends throughout the region. Strategic and financial investments from Hellman & Friedman are expected to help the company improve its customer experience, develop new and innovative products and services, and increase market share.
“We are excited to partner with Zooplus and to support the future development of the company,” commented Stefan Goetz, partner at Hellman & Friedman, and Adrien Motte, director at Hellman & Friedman. “Hellman & Friedman is ideally positioned to help Zooplus implement the necessary initiatives to adapt to an increasingly competitive market landscape with large generalist e-commerce platforms as well as omni-channel pet store chains striving for online market share. Our strategic partnership aims to enable the company to materially accelerate its pace of investment into key long-term value creation levers including a stronger value proposition for customers, a superior logistics and fulfilment infrastructure, new product and service innovations, and world-class talent practices. In addition, the offer affords shareholders an opportunity to realize a significant part of the envisaged long-term value creation immediately and upfront.”
Zooplus and Hellman & Friedman have agreed the pet company’s current management board will continue to lead the company, and its headquarters in Munich and other European locations will remain unchanged as a result of the acquisition.
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