VCA Inc., a Los Angeles animal healthcare company, today announced the signing of a definitive agreement to acquire an 80 percent ownership interest in Companion Animal Practices, North America for $344 million.

The closing of the acquisition is expected to take place between April and July, according to VCA’s filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday.

VCA, founded in 1986 as Veterinary Centers of America, owns and operates the largest network of free-standing veterinary hospitals in the United States and Canada. Companion Animal Practices, located in Las Vegas, operates 56 animal hospitals.

According to the acquisition agreement, Companion Animal Practices’ management team, under President Dennis Law, will operate independently but will share many of VCA’s business systems and processes.

“We are very excited to create this partnership between VCA and CAPNA,” Bob Antin, chairman and chief executive officer of VCA, stated. “We have known and worked with CAPNA’s management and many of its veterinary owners for years. We clearly share the belief that we can make a difference in the veterinary profession.”