OpEx Awards winner EMEA: Nordic Capital – AniCura

Veterinary care provider AniCura grew fourfold under Nordic Capital’s ownership, expanding from three to 11 European countries to become a leading pan-continental platform.

When Nordic Capital acquired a majority stake in Scandinavian veterinary group AniCura in 2014, it consisted of 50 clinics across Sweden, Denmark and Norway. It employed 1,000 staff and generated revenues of SKr870 million (about $1 billion or €980 million at today’s exchange rates).

Four years later, when the firm sold the business to the world’s largest conglomerate in the sector, Mars Petcare, AniCura had been transformed into a pan-European market leader, with over 200 clinics, 4,500 employees and pro forma revenues of SKr3.3 billion. The exit represented the largest ever veterinary deal in Europe and the second-largest worldwide.

This impressive growth story was underpinned by an aggressive buy-and-build strategy. AniCura completed no less than 150 acquisitions in just three years, dramatically altering the company’s geographic footprint. It expanded from three Nordic countries to 11 across Europe, including Spain, Italy, France, Germany and Switzerland.

Nordic Capital, alongside former owners the Foundation Djursjukhus i Stor-Stockholm and Swedish investor Fidelio, which retained minority stakes in the business, also helped drive AniCura’s organic expansion. The firm invested in securing AniCura’s place at the cutting edge of technological advances, including building a new specialist veterinary neurological centre in Sweden.

In order to support this rapid growth, Nordic Capital created a new organisational and operational structure. It invested heavily in the professionalisation of the business and drove the development of a distinct corporate culture. The firm appointed a new board, including the former CEOs of both Attendo and Capio. It also turned to its strategic HR capabilities to strengthen the central management team, including a new CFO and, critically, an in-house M&A function.

In addition, it hired a new procurement manager and the business worked closely with Nordic Capital’s procurement optimisation group.

“Nordic Capital focused on strengthening AniCura to become significantly professionalised, developing a unique and differentiated corporate culture recognised across the industry, and making it possible for the company to establish itself as the pan-European leader in specialised veterinary care,” says Nordic Capital’s Thomas Vetander.

“This included appointing a new board with highly experienced directors, which provided value-adding capabilities and tools. Furthermore, the establishment of a new organisational and operational structure ensured the highest degree of scalability for the future.”

Through this comprehensive, hands-on approach, Nordic Capital quadrupled revenues in a four-year period.

The number of animals cared for by the company, meanwhile, increased from 500,000 to 2.5 million.

Finally, Nordic Capital proactively positioned AniCura for future buyers, leading to extraordinary interest and an exit valuation that significantly exceeded market norms. It also generated one of the biggest returns in Nordic Capital’s 30-year history, capping a very successful ownership period. 

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