SWINDON-BASED corporate finance specialist Watersheds has helped forensic services company Cellmark to snap up a business which provides laboratory testing of exotic animals.

Pinmoore Animal Laboratory Services (PALS) Ltd in Cheshire is one of the few independent veterinary testing and diagnostics companies in the UK.

The staff work on a wide range of animal samples -  from aardvarks to zebras - which are sent in through veterinary practices, farms, wildlife parks and zoos, as well as private animal owners.

Cellmark provides a wide range of laboratory testing services focused mainly on forensic investigation, DNA analysis and toxicology.

It is contracted to work with most of the UK's police forces. The acquisition of the niche independent firm PALS is Cellmark’s first move into the veterinary diagnostics industry.

Watersheds partner Yuri Fernandes 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 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 praised the Swindon firm's expertise and methods which helped them discover unexpected opportunities.

He added: “Watersheds completely understood our brief then 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 and quickly resolve any issues that arose throughout the process by providing both parties with commercial and pragmatic solutions.

“This is an excellent acquisition 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 PALS team, we intend to develop a much larger veterinary diagnostics business which retains its focus on quality, flexibility and customer service."