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To shield it from investors' bite, PetSmart is spinning off part of Chewy.com

Ryan Cohen, CEO of Chewy.com, and his pet poodle Tylee pose for a portrait at their headquarters photo studio in Dania Beach on Feb. 1, 2017.
Ryan Cohen, CEO of Chewy.com, and his pet poodle Tylee pose for a portrait at their headquarters photo studio in Dania Beach on Feb. 1, 2017. cmguerrero@elnuevoherald.com

PetSmart, which last year bought Dania-based Chewy.com for $3 billion, has restructured its ownership to protect Chewy from future creditor actions, according to published reports.

Phoenix-based PetSmart moved 20 percent of online retailer Chewy to its private equity owners, BC Partners, which can now claim an immediate return on any sale or initial public offering of the e-commerce site, the Wall Street Journal reported. PetSmart moved another 16.5 percent to an "unrestricted subsidiary." A consortium led by BC Partners purchased PetSmart for $8.7 billion in 2014.

The moves are designed to putting the stake out of reach of bondholders who financed PetSmart's acquisition with $2 billion in debt, Bloomberg said.

As same-store sales have fallen, PetSmart's debt has lost value, the Journal said, meaning PetSmart's bondholders could take action to recoup some of their investment.

The Journal reported that Chewy's revenue had jumped 81 percent to $760 million in its most recent quarter, but that despite surging sales, it is still losing money.

Still, the paper said, Chewy may be worth nearly double the $3 billion price PetSmart paid for the website, one PetSmart bondholder told the paper.

Chewy's co-founder Ryan Cohen stepped down as CEO in March.

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