(Reuters) - Merck and Co MRK.N said on Friday it will buy privately held French company Antelliq Group, which makes digital identification products for livestock, for about 2.1 billion euros ($2.37 billion) to bolster its fast-growing animal health business.
Merck’s Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Frazier had said in October that the company was a “good owner” of its animal health unit.
“We believe that we run this business very well inside the company compared to our competitors,” he had said.
Merck’s unit has been a big player in the animal health segment, bringing in sales of $3.88 billion in 2017. Zoetis recorded $5.31 billion in revenue, while Elanco brought Lilly $3.09 billion in sales the same year.
Merck said Antelliq will be a wholly owned and separately operated subsidiary within its animal health division.
Antelliq’s products, which brought in 360 million euros ($406.51 million) in sales in the year ended Sept. 30, provide veterinarians, farmers and pet owners with digital technology that monitors animals and predicts disease in them.
These products allow access to real-time, actionable information to help improve livestock management and health outcomes, Merck said in a statement.
Merck will assume Antelliq’s debt of 1.15 billion euros ($1.30 billion), which it intends to repay shortly after the closing of the deal, expected in the second quarter of 2019.
Private equity firm BC Partners currently owns a majority stake in Antelliq.
Merck’s shares fell nearly 1 percent to $77.70 before the bell.
Reporting by Tamara Mathias in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli
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