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US pet care service Wag Labs going public in SPAC merger

By Monte Stewart


Updated

Dog with wagging tail near a person
Dog walking company Wag Labs plans to go public - Photo: Shutterstock

Dog walking service Wag Labs plans to go public this year through a $350m merger with a blank cheque company.

San Francisco, California-based Wag Labs – aka Wag! – announced Thursday it will combine with CHW Acquisition (CHW). Select pet caregivers will receive shares in the combined company upon completion of the merger, the firms said Thursday in a news release.

The merger plan comes amid a proliferation of so-called pandemic puppies – dogs that were adopted or bred – during the Covid-19 outbreak. More than 23 million US households – one in five – adopted a pet during the pandemic, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Services available in 50 states

Founded in 2015, Wag helps pet owners avoid the stress of leaving their faithful companions unattended. The company operates an app that enables customers to access dog walking, pet sitting, veterinary care, training, and other services in 50 American states.

The combined company is expected to be named Wag! Group and is expected to be listed on the Nasdaq  exchange under the new ticker symbol “PET.”

“Our announcement today represents a significant milestone in our journey to build the leading premium wellness and services platform for pets,” said Wag CEO Garrett Smallwood in the news release. “We are transforming the fragmented and largely offline pet wellness and services industries through our vertically integrated mobile-first technology platform.”

Blank cheque firms, also known as special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) are shells that exist solely for the purpose of acquiring, or merging with, private companies and taking them public.

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“We are confident in Wag’s ability to accelerate its momentum by executing against its proven growth strategies and consolidating this attractive market,” said CHW co-CEO Jonah Raskas in the news release. CHW raised $125m last August on its IPO.

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Revenue of $42m expected

According to the news release, approximately 70% of US households own pets. Wag expects to generate $42m in revenue in 2022, a 120% year-over-year increase. Wag’s platform has over 350,000 approved pet caregivers across the US, has completed over 11 million services through the platform, and has delivered over $300m total bookings to date.

The transaction is expected to generate $175m in gross cash proceeds, assuming there are no share redemptions. Wag and CHW expect to meet the minimum cash condition through debt and equity financing commitments. New financing is being provided through current Wag and CHW shareholders at a price of $10 per share.

Wag’s and CHW’s backers include Battery Ventures, Acme Capital, General Catalyst and Tenaya Capital. CHW has also obtained $30m in debt financing from Blue Torch Capital.

Wag’s plan to go public comes after another dog-walking company, Rover Group, went public through a SPAC merger last summer. Rover’s stock has fallen about 37% since then and was down more than 6% on Thursday.

On Tuesday, pet health and wellness company Petco (WOOF) expanded its partnership with Rover (ROVR). Petco customers and members of the company’s Vital Care offering, which includes vet exams and grooming sessions, will have access to such Rover.com services as dog walking, boarding, house sitting, doggy day-care and drop-in-visits.

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The difference between trading assets and CFDs
The main difference between CFD trading and trading assets, such as commodities and stocks, is that you don’t own the underlying asset when you trade on a CFD.
You can still benefit if the market moves in your favour, or make a loss if it moves against you. However, with traditional trading you enter a contract to exchange the legal ownership of the individual shares or the commodities for money, and you own this until you sell it again.
CFDs are leveraged products, which means that you only need to deposit a percentage of the full value of the CFD trade in order to open a position. But with traditional trading, you buy the assets for the full amount. In the UK, there is no stamp duty on CFD trading, but there is when you buy stocks, for example.
CFDs attract overnight costs to hold the trades (unless you use 1-1 leverage), which makes them more suited to short-term trading opportunities. Stocks and commodities are more normally bought and held for longer. You might also pay a broker commission or fees when buying and selling assets direct and you’d need somewhere to store them safely.
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