Specialist asset manager, Mercia Asset Management PLC, has sold its stake in The Native Antigen Company, a leading producer of infectious disease reagents, to global life sciences tools company LGC. The sale of The Native Antigen Company (“NAC”) is for a total cash consideration of up to £18.0million.
Mercia has supported The Native Antigen Company since it commenced trading, investing from both its EIS funds and its own balance sheet and held a 49.4% stake. The company, which was spun out of the University of Birmingham, is anticipated to generate an 8.4x return on its original direct investment cost and a 65% internal rate of return ("IRR" ) and a 12.1x return on a blended third-party managed funds investment cost and a 31% funds IRR.
Mercia’s Chief Operations Officer Peter Dines sat on the company’s board as a Non-executive Director between 2015 until today’s exit was announced.
The Native Antigen Company is one of the world’s leading suppliers of antigens that are used in antibody testing kits for and research into emerging diseases. It was one of the first companies to start production of the COVID-19 antigens in February this year and has been heavily involved in the fight against the virus since then. The company also played a key role in supplying products to combat both the Zika and Dengue virus in 2016 and 2018.
The acquirer, LGC, is a global leader in the life sciences tools sector and hosts the UK National Measurement Laboratory. The company provides a comprehensive range of specialty genomic analysis tools, measurement tools and supply chain assurance solutions, underpinned by leading analytical and measurement science capabilities.
Dr James Wilkie, CEO of University of Birmingham Enterprise, said “We are delighted that the Native Antigen Company, which started life as a University of Birmingham spinout, has gone on to become one of the world’s leading suppliers of infectious disease reagents, and made such a huge contribution to the frontline fight against COVID-19. We look forward to hearing about the continued success of the company and its technology following this acquisition.”
Dr Nick Roesen, CEO of The Native Antigen Company said “Joining LGC is a very exciting new phase in the development of the Native Antigen Company. We will be an integral part of LGC’s fast growing clinical diagnostics business and we are excited to join such a well-respected organisation that shares our purpose and mission, and that will support our diagnostic customers by providing even more world-leading products and services.”
Dr Mark Payton, Mercia Asset Management, CEO, said the deal demonstrated Mercia’s ability to grow value through the life cycle of a company: “Mercia and our university partners play a critical role in creating some of the UK’s most exciting regional businesses scale. Our EIS Funds are instrumental in supporting early stage businesses as has been the case with The Native Antigen Company. I am proud of the part Mercia has played in the company’s journey, not just as the major capital provider, but also as a critical partner in helping the business to achieve its potential.”
About The Native Antigen Company
The Native Antigen Company is one of the world’s leading suppliers of reagents that enable research into vaccine development and diagnostics for emerging and endemic infectious diseases. The Native Antigen Company specialises in the development and manufacture of native and recombinant viral and bacterial antigens, antibodies and immunoassays, alongside bespoke product development and custom manufacturing using its proprietary mammalian cell expression system.
The Native Antigen Company’s team have decades of experience in the isolation and purification of native antigens and high-yield mammalian cell expression systems, ensuring conformity to native type. The Company’s high-quality reagents have been widely adopted by leading pharmaceutical, in vitro diagnostic assay manufacturers, and academic groups in cutting-edge vaccine research and serology, where correct folding and glycosylation are vital.
The Native Antigen Company prides itself on an ethical and sustainable approach, exemplified by its use of 100% renewable energy and recycled packaging wherever possible, and building honest and transparent relationships with its customers and collaborators.
Founded in 2010, The Native Antigen Company is located in Oxford (UK) and has a global network of distributors.
Contact: Dr Andy Lane
Tel: +44 (0)1865 595230
About Mercia Asset Management PLC
Mercia is a proactive, specialist asset manager focused on supporting regional SMEs to achieve their growth aspirations. Mercia provides capital across its four asset classes of balance sheet, venture, private equity and debt capital; the Group's 'Complete Capital Solution'. The Group initially nurtures businesses via its third-party funds under management, then over time Mercia can provide further funding to the most promising companies, by deploying direct investment follow-on capital from its own balance sheet.
Mercia has a strong UK regional footprint through its eight offices, 19 university partnerships and extensive personal networks, providing it with access to high-quality deal flow. Mercia has almost £0.8billion of assets under management and, since its IPO in December 2014, has invested over £90.0million across its direct investment portfolio.
The Group raises its own Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs) and Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) Funds and details about open offers can be found through Mercia’s website.
Mercia Asset Management PLC is quoted on AIM with the epic "MERC" and includes the following wholly owned subsidiaries -
- Mercia Fund Management Limited is authorised and regulated by the FCA under firm reference number 524856
- Enterprise Ventures Limited is authorised and regulated by the FCA under firm reference number 183363