Mercia sells stake in Covid-19 antigen producer in £18m deal

Mercia Asset Management has sold its stake in The Native Antigen Company, a producer of infectious disease reagents, to global life sciences tools company LGC in an £18m deal.

Mercia has supported The Native Antigen Company since itstarted trading, investing from both its own balance sheet and its third-party funds under management, and held a 49.4% stake.

Mercia’s chief operations officer Peter Dines sat on the company’s board as a non-executive director between 2015 until today’s exit.

A University of Birmingham spin-out, 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, added: “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.”

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