EXPANSION into Europe is on the cards for York-based veterinary medicine and products supplier Animalcare Group after completing the acquisition of a larger Belgian venture.

The York Business Park-based group announced yesterday to AIM (the alternative investment market) that it had successfully completed the takeover of Ecuphar NV.

The deal, which was announced last month, sees a reverse takeover in which Animalcare will lead an enlarged group with direct veterinary sales into seven countries across Europe and exporting to around 50 markets worldwide.

Ecuphar NV focuses on the development and sale of veterinary pharmaceutical products that provide significant benefits to animal health in the companion animal, equine and production animal markets.

The enlarged group will have combined revenues of £84 million, £68.4 million of which will be from Ecuphar NV plus £15.6 million from Animalcare.

In its announcement yesterday, the Animalcare board said: “Animalcare and Ecuphar are highly complementary businesses, in particular with regard to their geographic markets, product portfolios and new product development pipelines and the Acquisition will provide enhanced scale and capabilities.

“As such, the board considers the acquisition to provide an opportunity to create a specialist pan-European animal health company that gives the enlarged group leadership in its chosen niches that is supported by attractive and complementary market drivers.

“The board believes that the enlarged group will represent a growing, highly cash generative and dividend paying animal health company with a solid pipeline of new veterinary pharmaceutical products.”

The cash for the deal was raised in part through a share placing which raised £32.7 million. The remaining balance of £4 million will be funded by existing cash held by Animalcare, which employs a team of 67 staff in York.

Chris Cardon, of Ecuphar NV, will become the group’s new chief executive while Iain Menneer, the chief executive of Animalcare, will become chief operating officer.

Iain Menneer, chief executive of Animalcare, said: “The acquisition will be truly transformational: it will expand our direct sales operation to cover seven countries and our international reach into 50 export markets, as well as greatly increasing the depth and diversity of our licensed veterinary medicines product range.”

The enlarged group combined will own 50 licenced drugs, eight vaccines and more than 100 care and nutraceutical products.