Check out market updates

Mars completes $1.3B acquisition of Heska

LOVELAND — Heska Corp. is now part of candy and pet food giant Mars Inc.

The privately held umbrella company that operates brands such as M&M’s and Pedigree closed this week on its $1.3 billion acquisition of the Loveland-based veterinary products supplier, according to regulatory disclosures filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

“It’s an honor to welcome Heska to the science and diagnostics division of Mars Petcare. Like us, “Heska has grown into a purpose-driven business, supporting veterinary professionals globally,” Mars division president Nefertiti Greene said in a prepared statement. “I am excited about what we can achieve with a full diagnostics portfolio across reference laboratories, point-of-care, imaging and technology solutions, rapid diagnostics, telemedicine and software solutions and services. We will continue to drive our R&D efforts to deliver innovative diagnostic solutions to help keep pets healthy.”

Mars paid $120 per share for Heska, a significant premium above where the stock had been trading prior to the acquisition deal. Heska’s stock began trading in January 2023 below $65 per share. 

As a result of the acquisition, Heska is no longer traded on the Nasdaq exchange, and the company’s board of directors has been replaced with new members selected by Mars. 

Heska was founded in Fort Collins in 1988 as Paravax Inc., which specialized in the development of animal vaccines. The company went public in 1997.

The Loveland-headquartered firm had been increasingly active in the diagnostics space since the early 2023 acquisition of Boulder-based MBio Diagnostics Inc., which does business as LightDeck Diagnostics.

It’s not clear how Heska’s Northern Colorado operations will be impacted by the business combination. Mars and Heska representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

In April, when the deal was first announced, Heska senior vice president Jon Aagaard told BizWest in an email that the company was “optimistic our next steps will increase our Colorado investment and commitment.”

An internal Heska employee communication, disclosed in April to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, indicated that the firm hoped to minimize disruption during the transition.

“Nothing will change in the near-term,” the memo to employees said. “Until the acquisition is complete, each company has a legal obligation to, and will continue to operate independently.”

Once the deal is complete, “it is our desire and intention that all Heska employees will join Mars Petcare’s Science and Diagnostics business,” Heska told its workers. “… Heska’s history of keeping, expanding, and investing in people and teams after mergers and acquisitions is strong, friendly, and always people-centered.”

Source: BizWest