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For Vets First Choice, growth is in the DNA

BY Peter Van Allen

4/30/2018
Photo / Tim Greenway
Photo / Tim Greenway
Benjamin Shaw, founder and CEO of Vets First Choice. The Portland-based company, founded in 2010, plans to merge with a spinoff of Henry Schein Inc., with the new company to be publicly traded and headquartered in Portland under the name of Vets First Corp.

It seemed like it was only a matter of time before Vets First Choice became a publicly traded company.

By year's end, Vets First Corp. will merge with Henry Schein Animal Health — itself a spinoff of the Fortune 500 company Henry Schein Inc. (Nasdaq: HSIC) — to become a new publicly traded company under the name of "Vets First Corp."

Vets First Choice has been on a rocket ship since being launched in 2010 by Benjamin Shaw, the company's CEO, and his dad, David Shaw, founder of IDEXX Laboratories Inc. and chairman of the Vets First Choice (and its successor, Vets First Corp.). The company will remain based in Portland.

Vets First Choice has more than 750 employees in the United States and 5,100 veterinary practices on its prescription-management platform. It continues to grow.

Last time it announced its sales, in 2015, its revenue topped $60 million, but that may be a fraction of the current revenue. Last summer, to help fund its growth, the company raised $223 million in venture capital.

Ben Shaw was honored by Mainebiz twice in 2015, with the Next Award and as one of Maine's fastest-growing companies.

Henry Schein Inc., with headquarters in Melville, N.Y., has operations or affiliates in 34 countries. It reported record sales of $12.5 billion in 2017 and has 22,000 employees and more than 1 million customers around the world.

Terms of the Vets First Choice transaction were not disclosed.

The transaction was structured as a Reverse Morris Trust, making it tax-free for Henry Schein shareholders for U.S. tax purposes. Henry Schein expects to receive $1 billion to $1.25 billion in cash on a tax-free basis as part of the transaction. It will use the proceeds for general corporate purposes, including share repurchases, repayment of indebtedness and acquisition opportunities, according to a news release.

The transaction has been unanimously approved by the boards of Henry Schein and Vets First Choice and is expected to close by year's end.

“We are early in the life cycle of rapid technological change in the animal health market,” Shaw said in a news release. “This merger creates an enhanced value chain that connects the veterinarian, the manufacturer and the pet owner through insights and analytics that will support better clinical and financial outcomes.”

Bangor Savings Bank purchased the Buoy Local gift card in 2016. There is now a Buoy Local app with features for cardholders and merchants. Buoy Local reports that it has expanded its merchant network in the Bangor and Portland markets, as well as Rockland and Belfast.