Mars wins OK to acquire European veterinary chain
AniCura operates 200 hospitals and owns a purchasing subsidiary that must be divested.
Mars Petcare, the owner of two large U.S. veterinary hospital chains — Banfield and VCA — will be permitted to take over AniCura and its 200 European clinics.
The European Commission reported that the acquisition approved by regulators is contingent on Mars selling VetFamily, an AniCura-owned purchasing group serving 1,000 veterinary clinics across Europe.
The required divestiture arose because of Mars’ position as a leading manufacturer of pet food, including therapeutic diets produced under the Royal Canin brand.
“On the basis of its preliminary investigation, the commission was concerned that the transaction, as originally notified, would have enabled Mars to shut out its dietetic pet food competitors from the downstream retail channels, namely the AniCura veterinary clinics and the VetFamily member clinics,” the commission reported. “This concern related to Denmark and Sweden, where AniCura and VetFamily together account for a very significant share of sales of dietetic pet food.”
AniCura hospitals are located in Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden.
The value of the transaction was not disclosed.
Mars in mid-2018 acquired Linnaeus Group Ltd., a network of nearly 90 veterinary referral and general practice hospitals in the United Kingdom.