Blue Buffalo Files for IPO of $1 Billion Pet-Food Business

Blue Buffalo Pet Products Inc., which sold almost $1 billion worth of pet food known for its natural ingredients last year, is readying an initial public offering.

Blue Buffalo, based in Wilton, Connecticut, filed for the IPO today with a $500 million placeholder, a figure used to calculate fees that may change.

The company was founded 13 years ago by Bill Bishop and his two sons, Billy and Chris after their dog, Blue, was stricken with cancer. The family wanted to feed their sick dog better food and worked with animal nutritionists and a veterinarian to create the products. They added the name “buffalo” to signify a period where animals roamed free in the Great Plains and ate only natural food.

The company offers products, such as a dozen cans of food for dogs at about $24 and a 12-pound bag of dry cat food for $36. Blue Buffalo posted net sales of $917.8 million in 2014, a 28 percent increase from the year prior. The company earned $101.9 million last year, and had $390.1 million in debt as of March 31.

The offering will be conducted by selling stockholders and the company won’t get any proceeds. In addition to the Bishop family, the Invus Group LLC has a stake in Blue Buffalo. In conjunction with the IPO, Blue Buffalo will donate $2 million to the Blue Buffalo Foundation for Cancer Research, which is striving to find a cure for pet cancer.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. are managing the offering.

Blue Buffalo has also dedicated 5 percent of the offering for non-management employees, customers and individual investors through Loyal3 Holdings Inc. The company plans to list on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol BUFF.