Zoetis to buy veterinary diagnostics firm Abaxis for $1.9 billion

  • Zoetis said it would buy Abaxis, a maker of veterinary diagnostic instruments, for about $1.9 billion in cash.
  • The deal will bolster the Animal health company's position in the fast-growing diagnostics market.
  • Zoetis has offered Abaxis $83 per share, a premium of 15.7 percent to its closing price on Tuesday.
Michele Barrett, a dairy technical services veterinarian for Zoetis, is tasked with managing the health of cows and advising clients on the best uses for Zoetis’ products.
Karina Frayter | CNBC
Michele Barrett, a dairy technical services veterinarian for Zoetis, is tasked with managing the health of cows and advising clients on the best uses for Zoetis’ products.

Top animal health company Zoetis will buy Abaxis for $1.9 billion, as it looks to capture a bigger slice of the fast-growing market for veterinary diagnostics services.

Zoetis expects the diagnostics category which currently accounts for a small share of its more than $5 billion in annual revenue to grow faster than the animal health-care industry.

The veterinary diagnostics market worldwide is expected grow to $3.62 billion in 2022 from $2.31 billion in 2017, according to research firm MarketsandMarkets.

Abaxis should also help New Jersey-based Zoetis lower its reliance on its large animal dermatology business that faces looming competition from smaller firms.

Shares of Abaxis jumped about 15 percent to $82.75 in premarket trading on Wednesday, just shy of Zoetis' all-cash offer price of $83 per Abaxis share. The stock has surged 45 percent since the start of the year.

Zoetis will fund the deal through cash and new debt. It expects the deal to close before the end of the year and Abaxis to add to its earnings in 2019.

Abaxis provides tools and services that detect, prevent and treat animal diseases.

Guggenheim Securities and Barclays were Zoetis' financial advisers, while Piper Jaffray advised Abaxis.