The Italian antitrust authority does not want to wave through a merger of Arcaplanet and Maxi Zoo (Fressnapf) without further ado.
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Review of the year

Plenty of action on the retail front

Pet product retailers attracted a lot of attention last year. Two big players were particularly prominent: Fressnapf and Zooplus.
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There was a lot going on at Europe's leading pet store chain. Self-confidence abounded at the annual press conference: the Fressnapf Group ended its anniversary year in 2020 with record annual sales of 2.65 bn euros, equivalent to an increase of 351 mio euros or 15.2 per cent. In international operations, the ten country subsidiaries notched up sales in excess of 1 bn euros for the first time. Sales of 1.09 bn euros equated to growth of 20.3 per cent or 183 mio euros. All country subsidiaries recorded a double-digit increase in sales.At the start of July, the surprise acquisition of 120 Maxi-Zoo stores in Italy by the investor Cinven and the future minority holding of the Fressnapf Group in the Arcaplanet Group prompted raised eyebrows among many suppliers, along with speculation about Fressnapf's strategy going forward. It also emerged that Fressnapf was merging the country subsidiaries in Austria and Switzerland into an Alpine region partnership with a joint management team and one headquarters. Hermann Aigner, formerly the managing director in Austria, will head the new enterprise.
The last XXL store for the present, with a retail area of 1 500 m², was then opened by Fressnapf close to its head office in Krefeld in August.

Takeover manoeuvring

After dragging on for months, the takeover battle for Zooplus finally came to an end in November. The repeatedly revised bid by the two financial investors Hellman & Friedman (H&F) and EQT eventually received the blessing of the shareholders. 480 euros per share implies an equity valuation of Zooplus of around 3.7 bn euros. Roughly 82 per cent of the shareholders supported the acquisition bid. On completion of the deal, Zooplus is expected to be taken out of the stock exchange.
The acquisition wrangling over Zooplus held the sector’s attention for severa months.
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