Bridgepoint eyes Pets dual track

Private equity firm Bridgepoint is eyeing a dual track process for pet food retailer Pets at Home, sources said, exploring the options of a listing and an outright sale in tandem.

The mid-market buyout house said this week it has appointed JP Morgan Cazenove as joint sponsor, joint book runner and a joint global coordinator to examine the options for a Initial Public Offering (IPO) for the 240-strong store chain.

“They may find from pre-marketing the IPO that the value they can get would be marginally better than the expressions of interest they are getting from the private equity market,” one source familiar with the situation said.

Media reports have valued the firm at £700m (US$1.11bn). It had turnover of £404.2m in the year to March 2009 and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amoritisation of £70m.

A potential IPO of the firm would come no earlier than the first quarter of 2010, the sources said.

The firm has already received expression of interest, with rival private equity firms Apax, TPG and Cinven having made expressions of interest for the business, sources familiar with the situation said.

All three firms declined to comment.

Bridgepoint declined to comment on interest from potential buyers of the business and on a report in the FT that KKR and Bain have also made indicative approaches.

“We are committed to exploring where greatest value can be achieved,” said a spokesman for Bridgepoint.

KKR and Bain declined to comment.

Depending on the pre-marketing of the IPO, Bridgepoint could face a choice between a higher valuation with a retained stake in the business after the IPO and a lower price but a full exit, the source said.

Bridgepoint bought Pets at Home in 2004 for £230m, earlier eyeing an IPO before the credit crisis hit.