JAB Weighs Initial Public Offering of Petcare Business

JAB is weighing an initial public offering of its pet-care portfolio amid booming demand for animal health-care services, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Luxembourg-based conglomerate is exploring options for the business, which it built through the 2019 acquisitions of Compassion-First Pet Hospitals and National Veterinary Associates, the people said. It could seek a U.S. listing later this year or in early 2022, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information.

Deliberations are ongoing and JAB could also seek an alternative to an IPO, according to the people. A representative for JAB declined to comment.

JAB’s entrance into the market was well timed. During Covid-19 lockdowns animal health companies have been boosted by young consumers spending more on their cats and dogs. The bet also proved to be a buffer as JAB’s hospitality businesses, including Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. and Pret A Manger Ltd. sandwich shops, have borne the brunt of the pandemic’s economic impact.

JAB filed confidentially for an IPO of Krispy Kreme earlier this month. It is considering seeking a valuation of about $4 billion for the business, which it bought in 2016 for roughly $1.35 billion, according to one person. JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley are lead advisers on the Krispy Kreme listing, the people said.

Representatives for JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley declined to comment.

JAB is also weighing options for its Panera Bread Co. chain of bakery cafes, including a possible IPO in the U.S. this year or next, the people said. The New York Times reported in April that JAB was considering an IPO of Panera.

Krispy Kreme and Panera are the latest food and drink companies to be lined up for a return to the public markets by JAB, following the 2020 listing of coffee giant JDE Peet’s NV, as it seeks to return money to investors after aggressive expansion in the sector.

JAB is an investment vehicle for Germany’s billionaire Reimann family and manages more than $50 billion in assets. Its net debt stood at $7.6 billion at the end of 2020, up from $4.7 billion a year prior, according to its annual report.

The company has shuffled its top ranks in recent months, promoting Joachim Creus and David Bell to senior partner positions as Chief Executive Officer Olivier Goudet seeks to accelerate growth. In April, JAB hired L’Oreal SA executive Lubomira Rochet to join the board of several of its portfolio companies, including those focused on fast-casual dining, pet-care and luxury.

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