National Veterinary Associates explores sale -sources

NEW YORK Tue Feb 11, 2014 4:17pm EST

NEW YORK Feb 11 (Reuters) - National Veterinary Associates, one of the leading private owners of veterinary hospitals in the United States, is exploring a potential sale that could value the company at close to $700 million, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Agoura Hills, California-based company, backed by private equity firm Summit Partners, is working with investment bank Jefferies on the potential sale, the people said on Tuesday.

The people all declined to be identified because the matter is private. Representatives for Summit declined to comment, while Jefferies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Founded in 1996 by Stanley Creighton, National Veterinary Associates owns 225 animal veterinary hospitals in 39 states, according to its website.

Boston-based Summit Partners first made an investment in the company in 2007 for $128 million. The company now has earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of roughly $60 million, and could be sold for roughly 10 to 11 times that amount, people familiar with the matter said.

The company's largest rival is publicly traded VCA Antech Inc. On the back of positive industry trends like increasing pet ownership, shares of VCA Antech have soared 41 percent in the last 12 months, compared to a gain of about 20 percent in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index.

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