LONDON and MUNICH — A bidding war for Zooplus Ag, a current leader in the European online pet products space, has been resolved between Hellman & Friedman and EQT Private Equity. The two companies have partnered to finance a complete acquisition through Zorro Bidco S.à r.l., a holding company currently controlled by Hellman & Friedman.
Zooplus initially agreed to a €3 billion offer from Hellman & Friedman in August, which represented approximately €390 per share. That offer was overtaken by a higher bid from Pet Bidco GmbH, a holding company of EQT Private Equity, in late September which represented roughly €460 per share.
Now, the two private equities have partnered to acquire Zooplus together for roughly €480 per share, still higher than the two companies’ previous bids.
“With this step we have found a solution to resolve the current deadlock in the tender process and enable the continued pursuit of the investment,” said Stefan Goetz, partner at Hellman & Friedman, and Johannes Reichel, partner and head of EQT Private Equity’s advisory team in Germany. “The improved offer with a very attractive price provides the highest degree of transaction security to the benefit of all stakeholders of Zooplus. H&F and EQT Private Equity are both excited to partner and to support the future development of the company.”
Zorro Bidco has already obtained all necessary regulatory clearance for the increased acquisition offer of €480 per share, but the deal is subject to a minimum acceptance threshold of 50% and other customary conditions, EQT reported.
Once the acquisition is complete, EQT Private Equity will become a “jointly controlling partner with equal governance rights” over Zooplus, the firm stated. The deal represents the best of both investors to support Zooplus’s growth strategy.
“With this offer by H&F in partnership with EQT, our shareholders now have the clarity and ability to take an informed tender decision and realize a remarkable 85% premium,” said Dr. Cornelius Patt, chief executive officer of Zooplus. “Given the significant value creation for our shareholders, the complementary expertise of both partners as well as their financial and strategic commitments to the company and its stakeholders, we as the Management Board — together with the Supervisory Board — confirm our recommendation to our shareholders to accept Zorro Bidco’s offer.”
This new ownership will pursue the delisting of Zooplus from publicly traded stock markets, as stated in previous bids by both Hellman & Friedman and EQT Private Equity.
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