Sunday 4 December 2016

Smurfit vehicle ploughs further €1m into farming firm

Published 10/06/2016 | 02:30

Niall Austin, founder of Moocall, and Orla Cafferty, director of the M50 Webstore, pictured with the farming product
Niall Austin, founder of Moocall, and Orla Cafferty, director of the M50 Webstore, pictured with the farming product

Businessman Michael Smurfit Snr has doubled his investment in Irish firm Moocall, injecting another €1m into the firm.

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Moocall had previously secured a total investment of around €1m from the Smurfit-controlled Bacchantes family investment firm that's based in the Isle of Man.

The paper baron - once the chairman of Smurfit Kappa - first invested in Moocall in 2014 as part of a €750,000 funding round, which was also backed by the Irish Farmers' Journal investment trust.

Moocall, developed by farmer Niall Austin, uses a sensor system that lets farmers know by text message when a cow is about to calve.

It can predict when a cow is most likely to give birth by measuring tail movement patterns triggered by labour contractions. Mr Austin developed the product in 2010 and it hit the market in 2014.

The device is now used on thousands of cows in Ireland.

The company has been busy expanding its sales and marketing presence in a number of countries around the world, including Australia, the United States, New Zealand and Canada.

New filings with the Companies Registration Office show that Bacchantes invested €1m at the end of April.

That followed a €750,000 cash injection that Bacchantes gave the firm earlier that month.

The latest publicly-available set of accounts for Moocall show that it made a €540,000 loss in the 12 months to the end of June 2015.

The startup has been ramping up spending as it penetrates more overseas markets for the product.

Mr Smurfit's Bacchantes vehicle has been busy lately. In May, it invested €233,000 in an Irish firm, Hytech Energy Europe, that imports and distributes energy products to Europe.

Hytech Energy Europe's directors include Maurice Buckley, a long-time friend of Mr Smurfit, who is resident in Monaco. Mr Buckley became a director of the company last November. Bacchantes invested €300,000 last year in Dublin-based biotech firm Inflection Biosciences.

Irish Independent

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