Candy, pet food giant Mars buying Heska for $1.3B

LOVELAND —  In a deal valued at $1.3 billion, veterinary products supplier Heska Corp. (Nasdaq: HSKA) has agreed to be acquired by Mars Inc., the privately held parent company behind candy and pet-food brands such as M&M’s and Pedigree.

The deal, expected to close in the second half of the year, is meant to bolster Mars’ animal-diagnostics business.

Mars will pay $120 per Heska share, a premium of nearly 40% over the Loveland firm’s average trading price over the past two months. 

“Upon transaction close, Heska will join Mars Petcare, a purpose-driven global business serving pets and pet owners through products and services within veterinary health and diagnostics, nutrition, innovation and technology,” the companies said in a statement Monday. “This acquisition will enable the science and diagnostics division of Mars Petcare to expand its diagnostic offerings and broadly promote point-of-care veterinary diagnostics to the global pet healthcare community.”

Heska has been increasingly active in the diagnostics space since the early 2023 acquisition of Boulder-based MBio Diagnostics Inc., which does business as LightDeck Diagnostics.

News of the pending acquisition sent Heska’s stock soaring Monday morning. Just after 10 a.m., Heska shares were trading at $117.66, up more than 20% on the day. 

“Today’s announcement is a great testament to the quality of our Heska family — we are small, but our people and their creativity, execution, expertise, and value-creation have made us exceptional,” Heska CEO Kevin Wilson said in a statement.

Heska was founded in Fort Collins in 1988 as Paravax Inc., which specialized in the development of animal vaccines. The company went public in 1997.

It’s unclear what, if any, impact the acquisition by Mars will have on Heska’s Northern Colorado and Boulder-area operations. Company representatives could not be immediately reached for comment Monday morning. 

Lazard Ltd. and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP advised Mars on the deal, and BofA Securities Inc., Piper Sandler & Co. and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP lent their expertise to Heska.

Source: BizWest

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