Compassion-First chain gets new majority owner

JAB Ltd. moves into pet care with a veterinary company valued at more than $1 billion.

Compassion-First chain gets new majority owner

The owner of consumer brands Krispy Kreme and Panera Bread has purchased a majority stake in Compassion-First Pet Hospitals, a chain of 41 specialty, emergency and general practices.

The buyer, JAB Ltd., and the seller, the private equity firm Quad-C Management Inc., placed the total value of Compassion-First at $1.215 billion, or more than $29.6 million per hospital.

Compassion-First was founded in 2014 by John Payne, former CEO of the Banfield Pet Hospital network and past president of Bayer Animal Health North America. The Compassion-First chain extends from Connecticut to Arizona and includes three Red Bank veterinary hospitals in New Jersey.

Payne remains an investor in Compassion-First and the company’s president and CEO.

“I would like to thank Quad-C for its outstanding support and guidance during our foundational years at Compassion-First and setting us up for future success,” Payne said. “As we look to the next chapter in our company’s evolution, we can think of no better partner and shareholder than JAB, which brings a very long-term time horizon to its investments.

“Their support will allow Compassion-First to continue investing in our doctors, our technology and our practice to produce the highest-quality care and supply the tools, training, collaboration and leadership to make that care accessible in a growing number of communities.”

Veterinary hospital chains are fetching huge sums from buyers. The 800-hospital VCA network was sold in 2017 to Mars Inc. for $9.1 billion. The deal included VCA-owned Antech Diagnostics, the diagnostic imaging company Sound and boarding provider Camp Bow Wow.

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