Vets First Choice secures $223 million investment

(Reuters) - Vets First Choice, a privately held U.S. provider of healthcare technology to veterinary practices, said on Wednesday it had raised $223 million from a group of investment firms to help it scale up its business.

The equity infusion is the biggest in the history of the seven-year-old company, which said it will enable it to accelerate its growth, launch new services and begin to expand into Europe and Asia.

The money raised could also be used to roll up smaller players in the fragmented veterinary services sector, which could benefit from Vets First Choice’s scale and customer relationships, Benjamin Shaw, the company’s co-founder and chief executive officer, said in an interview.

The investment group was led by investment firms Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) and Hillhouse Capital Group. It also included Viking Global Investors, Wellington Management Company, Rock Springs Capital and Sequoia Heritage.

CD&R led an earlier round of financing for Vets First Choice in 2015.

Portland, Maine-based Vets First Choice allows veterinarians to monitor and improve how pet owners administer medication to their animals. The company says its service triples medication compliance rates and helps boost revenues.

“Vets First Choice is creating powerful insight into gaps in patient care, and is helping to drive greater engagement and better health outcomes for our veterinary practice partners and their clients,” said Shaw.

The company has doubled in size in the past year and currently serves around 20,000 veterinary practices.

Vets First Choice was advised by investment bank Leerink Partners LLC on the transaction. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP offered legal advice.

Reporting by Carl O’Donnell in New York; Editing by Sandra Maler