Swindon corporate finance specialist brings some animal magic to its new acquisition

By Jessica Durston - 5 May 2022


Corporate finance specialists Watersheds have supported forensic services company Cellmark, to acquire a niche business that provides laboratory testing of exotic animals.

The niche labratory testing business - Pinmoore Animal Laboratory Services Ltd (PALS) - is one of the few independent veterinary testing and diagnostics companies in the UK.

Based in Cheshire, PALS works with a wide range of animal samples from veterinary practices, farms, wildlife parks and zoos, as well as privately owned animals.

Cellmark, which has its HQ in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, provides a wide range of laboratory testing services focused particularly on forensic investigation, DNA analysis and toxicology, and is contracted to the majority of UK police forces.

The acquisition of the niche independent firm PALS is Cellmark’s first move into the veterinary diagnostics sector.

Yuri Fernandes, a partner with Watersheds, said: “We were engaged by Cellmark in late 2020 as they embarked on their journey to grow and diversify their business through acquisitions, with a view to both strengthening their existing markets, and also entering new ones.  Following this strategy we reached out into the marketplace to identify suitable businesses that met Cellmark’s criteria, but also shared the same values of professionalism, integrity, and customer service.

“Following an initial discussion, it became clear that PALS would be an excellent fit and we were able to construct a valuation and transaction structure rapidly that suited both parties. The acquisition will provide the exotic animal diagnostics company with the support and operational resources needed for it to grow, as well as development opportunities for its employees.”

Cellmark’s Managing Director David Hartshorne said: “Watersheds completely understood our brief and searched for and found exactly the type of company that we wanted to acquire.

"We were particularly impressed that they sourced opportunities that weren’t necessarily on the open market, and that we almost certainly wouldn’t have found on our own. They were able to react promptly, quickly resolve any issues that arose throughout the process by providing both parties with commercial and pragmatic solutions.

“This is an excellent acquisition for Cellmark as it allows us to expand our laboratory testing expertise into what is a new market for us. There are significant opportunities to expand and so working with the team at PALS we intend to develop a much larger veterinary diagnostics business which retains its focus on quality, flexibility and customer service.”

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