(Bloomberg) -- Musti Group Oyj received an offer valuing the Finnish chain of pet-care stores at €868 million ($954 million) from a consortium of investors including Portuguese retailer Sonae SGPS SA and company management.

The offer of €26 for each Musti share sent the stock up almost 30% at 10:59 a.m. in Helsinki. The buyer is a consortium comprising Sonae Holdings SA, Musti Chairman Jeffrey David, as well as board member Johan Dettel and Chief Executive Officer David Ronnberg, through Flybird Holding Oy, according to a statement on Wednesday.

Musti caters to pet owners, a group that’s been growing for the past decades. It’s also a market that tends to be resistant to economic downturns. In the past few years, a new demographic has emerged, with the so-called pet parents willing to spend increasing amounts to pamper their animal companions. 

Musti Group has more than 340 stores in Finland, Sweden and Norway, including under brands Musti ja Mirri, Musti, Arken Zoo and Djurmagazinet, as well as online stores.

Still, the business is not without its risks. Musti has recently been at the center of a pet-food scandal in Finland after cat and dog owners discovered food sold at its stores caused paralysis-like symptoms in their pets. Some animals fell severely ill and had to be put down, according to local media reports.

Laboratory tests run by the company identified a high concentration of glycoalkaloids in foreign potato flakes as the culprit, and the company removed the products from sale. While the shares took a hit initially, they have since recovered.

“Our offer, which represents a premium valuation, reflects our profound belief in the company, the pet retail industry and the Nordic region, as well as in the strong and experienced management team of Musti,” said Claudia Azevedo, chief executive officer of Sonae.

Sonae is a northern Portugal-based holding company controlled by the Azevedo family with a portfolio of businesses including the country’s biggest supermarket chain.

The offer price represents a premium of about 27% compared to the closing price of €20.46 on Nov. 28, the last trading day immediately preceding the announcement. Musti’s board of directors who are not part of the consortium unanimously recommended that shareholders accept the tender offer.

The offer period is expected to commence on or about Dec. 18 and to expire on or about Feb. 12, with a plan to complete the offer in the first quarter of 2024 pending approval from competition authorities. 

To finance the purchase, the buyers have an equity commitment from Sonae, which has arranged “adequate own equity” as well as debt financing from Caixabank SA and Banco Santander Totta SA.

--With assistance from Joao Lima.

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