Dechra snared in new London blow

Veterinary drug maker Dechra is the latest company to delist from the London Stock Exchange after agreeing a £4.5bn takeover led by private equity outfit EQT

  • Deal will lead to renewed soul-searching over the erosion of City’s status
  • It means a salary of £15.7 million for outspoken CEO Ian Page
  • Britain’s biggest takeover this year, but price 5% lower than offered in April

Veterinary drug maker Dechra becomes the latest UK growth company to delist from the London Stock Exchange after agreeing to a £4.5bn takeover led by Swedish private equity firm EQT.

The deal means a £15.7m payday for outspoken CEO Ian Page, 62, but will spark renewed scrutiny into the erosion of the city’s status as a host of listed companies.

It’s Britain’s biggest takeover this year, but the price is about 5 percent lower than it was offered in April after Dechra’s outlook was tarnished by a profit warning.

The Cheshire company, which Page has run for more than two decades, makes medicines for pets, farm animals and horses, as well as pet food.

It employs over 2,500 people worldwide, including 500 in the UK, with headquarters in Northwich and branches in Skipton and near Shrewsbury.

Ian Page: Stays on as CEO while the Swedes buy a pet medicine company

The company was one of the success stories of the pandemic as people bought pets for companionship. That boosted its value and propelled it towards the FTSE 100. But it is down by a third since its peak in 2021, falling back to the FTSE 250 index.

Dechra’s chairman Elizabeth Platt said the board believed the new owners would be ‘responsible and supportive’.

They said they have “no plans to make material restructuring” or cut jobs. City figures are trying to restore the superiority of London’s capital markets, pushing for reforms to free up some of the trillions of pounds in Britain’s pension funds so it can be plowed into growth.

Dechra becomes the latest British company to fall into the hands of foreign owners. Software company Micro Focus was bought by a Canadian rival, while Aveva, another software company, was swallowed up by French Schneider.

London also missed out when Cambridge chip designer Arm decided to float in New York.

There are concerns that Britain, while a melting pot for innovation, is not reaping the rewards when companies seek investment to become world leaders – and have to look abroad.

Russ Mould, director of investment at AJ Bell, said: ‘The long-term consequences of an erosion of the mid-sized universe, from which future giants are likely to be drawn, do little for the health of the wider UK market. .’

1685742273 934 Dechra snared in new London blow

Rochdale-born Page will stay on as CEO. He left school at the age of 16 and worked as a driver. He later founded a company which he sold to Lloyds Chemists, before participating in a buyout which Dechra founded in 1997. It was launched in 2000 with a valuation of £60 million.

Page has made money by selling millions of pounds worth of shares, including a share of £10 million in 2020. The latest figures put his annual salary at £2 million. He and his wife Zoe Bamford own just over 400,000 shares, which will be worth £15.7 million according to the deal.

Who exactly is EQT?

EQT was launched in 1994 with the backing of the Wallenberg family – powerful Swedish industrialists – and today manages assets in excess of £185 billion in 20 countries.

Investments include IVC Evidensia, a chain of veterinary clinics in Europe and North America, headquartered in Bristol. It was once owned by SSP, the operator of airport and railroad concession brands such as Upper Crust.

The company says it creates value through “sales growth, margin expansion and strategic repositioning.” EGT will buy a 74 percent stake in Dechra, and Luxinva, a vehicle owned by the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, will take the rest.