KKR & Co. is in talks with Zooplus AG over a potential takeover, in another possible challenge to Hellman & Friedman’s 2.8 billion-euro ($3.3 billion) bid for the German online pet supply retailer.
The New York-based buyout firm has held discussions with Zooplus, the company said in a statement, confirming a report by Bloomberg News.
Hellman & Friedman last month offered to buy Zooplus for 390 euros a share in cash in a deal backed by the company’s management and supervisory boards. Last week, Zooplus said it was also in talks with EQT AB.
Both KKR and EQT “have approached the company with a qualified and credible financial as well as strategic proposal,” Zooplus said. “Currently, there is no certainty whether the discussions will eventually result in a public takeover offer by either of those parties.”
Private equity funds have increasingly been bidding against each other, driving up prices for assets as they rush to spend their records amount of capital. The interest in pet supplies comes after more people stuck at home during coronavirus lockdowns sought out furry companions. The industry was already benefiting as dog and cat owners looked for more premium products and the convenience of online deliveries.
Shareholders holding 17% of Zooplus, including Maxburg Beteiligungen GmbH, committed to tender their stock to Hellman & Friedman, the firm said at the time of its bid. Investors are typically allowed to withdraw such support if a better offer comes in.