Monday 22 December 2014

Genealogy giant sold for €1.2bn months after Dublin move

Peter Flanagan New Technology Correspondent

Published 23/10/2012 | 05:00

BARELY five months after it said it would set up its international headquarters in Dublin, the world's biggest genealogy service is to be bought by a private equity company.

Ancestry.com said it had agreed terms to sell itself to the London based Permira for $1.6bn (€1.2bn).

With more than two million paying subscribers, the company is by far the largest family tree service in the world.

It set up in Ireland last year but in July confirmed it would open its European headquarters on Sir John Rogerson's Quay in Dublin, and started taking on around 35 staff from September.

Those jobs are not believed to be in jeopardy as a result of yesterday's deal.

In a statement, the company said it will "remain headquartered in Utah, with a continued large presence in San Francisco, Dublin, London and other international markets."

Ancestry.com was set up in 1983 as a publisher of genealogical books and magazines. It hit the big time when it signed a tie-in with NBC for the US edition of BBC television show 'Who Do You Think You Are?'.

That series, which featured the likes of Martin Sheen and Gwyneth Paltrow, has spurred huge growth in the number of amateur genealogists and the format has been copied in a number of countries, including Ireland.

NBC however cancelled the programme in May, sparking concerns about the company's long term prospects. Ancestry.com retained advisors to seek a sale in June.

Success

"This is a successful outcome for our public stockholders, and a great day for Ancestry.com employees and subscribers around the world," said chief executive Tim Sullivan.

"We're excited that Permira shares our commitment to keep investing in our technology and product experience to make family history easy and accessible," he claimed.

The company has remained very profitable, and its most recent quarterly results beat market expectations.

Ancestry.com expects to have sales of about $480m (€368m) this year, compared to 2011's figure of $399.5m (€306m).

In July, the company's head of international business Olivier Van Calster said:

"Ireland is the perfect location for our international headquarters and was chosen for a number of reasons, not least because of the great availability of talented people, but also because it is a country that has a long history of emigration and plays a significant role in the family history of people across the globe," he said.

Irish Independent

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