An Irish company that can trace food from farm to fork using animal DNA - helping to eliminate fraud and contamination - has been sold for €50m.
IdentiGEN was set up in 1996 as a Trinity College campus spin-out by scientists Ciaran Meghen and Ronan Loftus. They still lead the business and are among shareholders set to benefit from the sale. Taxpayers are set to gain too through the Enterprise Ireland-backed MML Growth Capital Partners Ireland.
MSD Animal Health, part of global pharmaceuticals giant Merck, acquired IdentiGEN in a deal understood to value the Irish business at more than €50m.
IdentiGEN is a world leader in providing DNA-based tracking of animals and meat products.
The deal provides a massive payday for IdentiGEN's senior management team and its majority owner, MML Growth Capital Partners Ireland.
MML Growth had paid €12m to acquire its majority stake in Blackrock-based IdentiGEN back in 2015.
That investment helped to expand IdentiGEN's global footprint to today's network of offices in the UK, US, Germany and Switzerland.
Its DNA TraceBack platform is used by retailers, food service providers and processors to track the movement of beef, poultry, pork and seafood along the entire supply chain.
Neil McGowan, partner and co-head of investments at MML, said IdentiGEN had used its investment "astutely and has built out the business through pioneering science and technology in food traceability and safety".
"IdentiGEN's acquisition by MSD Animal Health is a natural step for the business at this juncture," Mr McGowan said.
Mr Meghen said MML's 2015 investment arrived "at a pivotal moment for us as we were opening new markets and scaling the business".
"We had belief in ourselves and confidence in the opportunity," he said.
"However, the investment and the added experience of MML gave us the scope to broaden our reach and drive growth."
MSD Animal Health president Rick DeLuca said its acquisition of IdentiGEN would allow it "to provide end-to-end animal traceability solutions at industry scale".