How Qld company’s incredible $250M deal was done
GOLD Coast businessman Tomas Steenackers has taken his Ormeau-based veterinary services firm from ASX minnow to become the big dog of the listed pet healthcare business worth five times the amount it was four years ago.
National Veterinary Care listed in 2015 valued at $50 million with 30 clinics. Yesterday an offer to buy all the shares in the company from US-owned VetPartners valued NVL, which now has 103 businesses, at $248.4 million.
VetPartners has offered NVL security holders $3.70 cash per share. That offer represents a 58 per cent premium on Friday's closing price and 270 per cent more than the IPO price of $1 per share. The NVL board has unanimously recommended shareholders accept the offer.
Investors, including reportedly Hong Kong hedge funds, piled in following the announcement sending the stock price 52 per cent higher, or up $1.24, to close at $3.60. Plenty of shareholders were happy to take profits and sell rather than wait for completion of the deal scheduled for April.
Mr Steenackers said VetPartners, which is owned by 700-clinic giant National Veterinary Associates, based in California, first approached NVL in late September with a non-binding offer.
He said it took eight weeks for lawyers and executives from both companies to thrash out a final agreement he felt comfortable putting to NVL's shareholders.
Mr Steenackers said the Sydney-based company was attracted to NVL's "hands on" approach with its clinics.
"They don't touch the clinics too much or tell the clinics how to operate," he said.
"We help the clinic, we support the clinic, we give more information about how we would like the clinic to be run. I think VetPartners are thinking they need more of that in the business."
NVL has invested considerably in back-office support systems for the clinics as well as multiple veterinary doctor and nurse training centres in Melbourne, Brisbane and Christchurch.
"That was really appealing to VetPartners."
Mr Steenackers would not commit to staying on in the company if the sale is approved by shareholders in a vote next March.
He said those details would be "ironed out" in the future and there would be more clarity by January.
Regardless of the future management makeup, Mr Steenackers is set to benefit from the sale with his holding of 1.707 million shares worth $6.3 million at the VetPartners offer price.
VetPartners CEO John Burns was not available for an interview.
However, a spokeswoman for Mr Burns said there was no plan to move the NVL headquarters from Ormeau to Sydney.
"VetPartners and National Veterinary Care have complementary networks and will continue to operate as separate networks with no changes planned," she said.
Mr Steenackers was one of a number of former Greencross heavyweights who started NVL after seeing an opportunity to offer improved services to pet owners looking for the best healthcare for their "fur babies".
The company expanded each year, recording a 43.6 per cent increase in revenue for FY19 during which time it also acquired the Pet Doctors Group in New Zealand to make it the largest veterinary services provider across the Tasman.
NVL has about 1200 staff across New Zealand and Australia with 25 based in its support office in Ormeau.