By Cecilia Butini 
 

U.S.-based investor and private-equity asset manager KKR & Co. has entered the race for a possible voluntary public takeover of German online pet-supply retailer Zooplus AG, joining a handful of investors that have expressed interest.

Zooplus was already in talks with Swedish investment company EQT AB, which it confirmed on Sept 2. The retailer said Tuesday that the outcome of the discussions with EQT and KKR remain open. It also said that "both parties have approached the company with a qualified and credible financial as well as strategic proposal."

In mid-August, private equity investor Hellman & Friedman LLC also expressed interest in taking over Zooplus, offering 390 euros ($462.99) a share, implying an equity value of about EUR3 billion on a diluted basis.

Hellman & Friedman's offer was backed by Zooplus's management and supervisory board, and shareholders who own 17% of Zooplus's stock have already agreed to tendering their stock, including long-time investor Maxburg Beteiligungen GmbH & Co.

Zooplus also entered into an investor agreement on Aug. 13 with Luxemburg-based Zorro Bidco Sarl for a possible takeover, which implied a cash consideration of EUR390 a share. According to the terms of the agreement, the success of the takeover offer is subject to conditions including reaching a minimum threshold of 50% plus one of Zooplus shares, pending merger control and foreign investment clearances.

Zooplus said there is no certainty whether the discussions with KKR and with EQT will eventually result in a public takeover offer by either company.

At 1350 GMT, shares in Zooplus traded 3.8% higher at EUR437.60.

After Zooplus confirmed talks with EQT, Jefferies analysts noted that the company's closing share price of EUR397 the day prior signaled investors' possible expectation that a higher offer than the existing one from Hellman & Friedman would emerge.

Zooplus posted sales of EUR1.8 billion in 2020, which it said captured about 7% of the European pet-supplies market, both online and offline.

 

Write to Cecilia Butini at cecilia.butini@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 07, 2021 10:07 ET (14:07 GMT)

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