Why Private Equity is Drawn to Pet Health’s Investment Pedigree

Tracey Alper our consultant managing the role

We have previously discussed the rapid growth of healthcare funds, but increasingly these investors are looking to diversify their assets. 

Having experienced a significant boom as a direct result in response to social isolation, private equity investment has been showing particular interest in pet health businesses. This surge isn’t surprising when you consider a few key factors: increased lifespans of pets, advancements in diagnostic techniques, and an ever-intensifying interest from pet owners in the health and wellness of their furry friends. 

On top of this, contemporary trends like pet humanisation and premiumisation have only amplified the sector's growth potential.

Pet care is a sure growth prospect for funds

Recent investment activity speaks volumes about this trend. For example, EQT’s high-profile investment into Dechra Pharmaceuticals, valuing the company at an impressive £4.5bn, truly underscores the burgeoning interest from investors. Other noteworthy investments have included Inflexion’s funding of Village Vets, Eurazeo’s input into French veterinary group Sevetys, and CVC’s acquisition of Medivet, among others.

This pattern illustrates a clear trend: the rise in pet ownership and consequent spending is creating an attractive long-term prospect for private equity firms, according to industry insiders like Tom Gladstone from OC&C Strategy Consultants. His belief is that this sector, including areas such as pet-tech and vet chains, holds great consolidation potential within European countries such as Germany, France, Spain, and Italy. Furthermore, these markets also present opportunities to expand into related fields, offering varied pricing and enticing potential yield.

Meanwhile, Exponent partner James Gunton highlights the overall benefits of the animal health market. These stem from both stable and growing end-market demand. The sector, he notes, benefits from a long-standing trend of big pharmaceutical companies outsourcing certain aspects of their work, allowing them to concentrate on core competencies. He also points to strong barriers to entry, such as heavy regulation, that help ensure healthy margins.

Taking a look at the figures, Statista data reveals an estimated 91 million European households owned at least one pet in 2022, a jump of roughly 20 million in the last decade alone. This represents a significant opportunity for both investment and consolidation within the sector.
However, the increased regulatory attention in this sector, as seen in the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority’s recent investigation into veterinary market practices, is something for investors to be wary of. Additionally, a rising pet population against the backdrop of a shortage of trained vets in some European countries has led to increased costs and pricing.
Despite these challenges, the general sentiment among private equity investors remains highly positive. The animal health market might be smaller than its human counterpart, but the growth opportunities, especially for second-tier animal health pharma companies, continue to attract keen investors.

Are you a healthcare fund looking for a heavy weight CFO or finance leader? 

At Marks Sattin Executive Search, we work with a wide range of investor-led and privately owned businesses across all sectors and locations. With over 30 years of experience, we have helped a number of petcare, healthcare and life science organisations find their next CFO. 

If you would like to speak to us about hiring a CFO for your portfolio or your owner-managed business, please don’t hesitate to submit a brief

17/06/24
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