Buying a business

Willows

Adviser to Sovereign Capital Partners on their investment into specialist veterinary clinic Willows.

The deal

Our Corporate Finance team has advised Sovereign Capital on the successful acquisition of Willows Veterinary Centre and Referral Service (“Willows”).

The team acted as both lead adviser and debt adviser to Sovereign on it’s investment in Willows and are also providing interim CFO support for three months post deal. Sovereign Capital, the UK private equity buy and build specialist, has completed a significant investment in Willows, one of the leading specialist veterinary centres for small animals in the UK.

Located in Solihull, West Midlands, Willows provides specialist referral services in: orthopaedics, ophthalmology, neurology, soft tissue surgery, internal medicine and oncology as well as first opinion veterinary services.

It operates out of a 32,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art hospital with facilities including: 6 operating theatres, 24 consulting rooms, a specialist diagnostic imaging department, an isolation ward and an intensive care unit. The hospital is staffed by veterinary surgeons and qualified veterinary nurses 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Willows was founded in 1992 by Malcolm McKee and Peter Renwick, both specialist veterinary surgeons; Peter has specialised in veterinary ophthalmology for the past 22 years, during which time Malcolm has been a leader in the field of small animal orthopaedic surgery. Sovereign has augmented the management team with the appointment of Lynne Hill as CEO and David Mobbs as Chairman.

The founders will continue with the business as non-executive directors. A qualified veterinary surgeon, Lynne is highly experienced, having previously been CEO of Langford Veterinary Services at the University of Bristol and Head of Clinical Services at the Royal Veterinary College, University of London as well as being a past President of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. David Mobbs is Group CEO of Nuffield Health and has been since 2003; the Group operates 31 hospitals and 75 fitness and wellbeing centres.

Sovereign will work with Willows’ management team to expand the business to meet the increasing demand for its specialist services. This acquisition sees Sovereign re-enter the veterinary services market after its successful investment in CVS, which had become the largest group of veterinary surgeries in the UK when listed on AIM in 2007.

“The team’s experienced senior team provided comprehensive buy-side support, enabling us to fully concentrate on the key issues in the confidence that our MBI of Willows would be completed smoothly and efficiently and that no balls would be dropped. We are delighted to have partnered with the team to ensure the successful delivery of this transaction.” Neil Cox, Director, Sovereign Capital.

“Barclays are delighted to continue its long term association with Willows. It was great to work with the team again who helped us tailor a package of facilities to support Sovereign and the new Management Team. The team were hands on and very pragmatic during the deal process and we look forward to future interaction as the Willows strategic plan unfolds.” Jon Lavin, Barclays Debt Finance.

Deal summary

Sector:

Healthcare

Deal type:

Acquisition, Debt Advisory

Deal size:

Undisclosed

The team’s experienced senior team provided comprehensive buy-side support, enabling us to fully concentrate on the key issues in the confidence that our MBI of Willows would be completed smoothly and efficiently and that no balls would be dropped. We are delighted to have partnered with The team to ensure the successful delivery of this transaction Neil Cox Director at Sovereign Capital

Related team

Clive Hatchard

Clive Hatchard

  • Partner
  • Corporate Finance
  • London West End, Reading

Ian Milne

Ian Milne

  • Partner
  • Debt Advisory
  • London West End, Reading

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