UPDATE 1-Premium pet food firm Blue Buffalo picks IPO bookrunners-sources

Wed Mar 12, 2014 11:39am EDT

By Olivia Oran

March 12 (Reuters) - Blue Buffalo, the premium pet food company, has hired banks for an initial public offering that could come later this year, three people familiar with the company said on Wednesday.

The Wilton, Connecticut-based company, which makes healthy food for cats and dogs, has selected JPMorgan Chase & Co, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup Inc to lead the IPO, the people said.

The people declined to be named because the matter is not public.

The company and the banks could not be immediately reached for comment.

Blue Buffalo, backed by private equity firm Invus Group, was founded in 2003. Its products include the Blue Basics brand for pets with food sensitivities; the Wilderness brand which includes more meat; and the grain-free Freedom brand. Blue Buffalo also sells cat litter, pet treats and stews.

The company posted revenue of roughly $600 million last year, according to published reports.

Blue Buffalo is looking to go public amid positive industry trends like rising pet ownership and an increase in spending among pet owners for their animals.

According to the 2013-2014 survey from American Pet Products Association, 68 percent of U.S. households own a pet.