Sovereign Capital, a UK lower mid-market firm, has made an investment in Willows Veterinary Centre and Referral Service, a specialist veterinary centre for pets.
Financial details of the transaction were undisclosed. Debt to support the transaction was provided by Barclays.
Willows, which is based in the West Midlands, provides services in orthopaedics, ophthalmology, neurology, soft tissue surgery; internal medicine and oncology. It has six operating theatres, 14 consulting rooms, a specialist diagnostic imaging department, an isolation ward and an intensive care unit. The hospital is staffed by veterinary surgeons and qualified veterinary nurses 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Sovereign will work with Willows’ management team to expand the business to meet increasing demand, the firm said.
This acquisition sees Sovereign re-enter the veterinary services market after its investment in CVS, a veterinary surgeries group in the UK, which it listed on the AIM in 2007 netting an 11.9x return.
The deal has been done using capital from Sovereign’s Fund III, a £300 million 2010-vintage. It is understood this will be one of the last deals from that fund.
In August, Sovereign closed its fourth fund on its £395 million (€497 million, $655 million) hard-cap having spent just four months in market.
SCLP IV will invest up to £50 million of equity in services based companies. Sovereign typically targets investments in the business support services, healthcare and education & training sectors. The firm develops companies through a combination of organic and buy-and-build growth strategies. Earlier this year Sovereign fully realised its first fund, SCLP I, a £120m fund with a 2001 vintage, which generated an overall return of 3.5x.