BioWorld International Correspondent

DUBLIN, Ireland - The merger between Meridian Bioscience Inc. and Biotrin Holdings plc is off. The two companies released identically worded announcements Friday, stating that they "terminated negotiations and ceased further discussions regarding Meridian Bioscience's earlier interest in acquiring Biotrin Holdings."

The stock-based deal was originally disclosed in May and was then expected to take just 45 days to close. The first public sign that it was starting to unravel came in October, when Meridian stated that due diligence was continuing, although it still expected to close the transaction before the year's end.

Cormac Kilty, CEO of Dublin-based Biotrin, declined to reveal why the agreement was terminated, due to a non-disclosure agreement with Cincinnati-based Meridian. It would appear, however, that it stems from a failure to agree to terms, as Biotrin is profitable.

"The business has gone from strength to strength, and it's from that position of strength that we don't have to accept any offer," he told BioWorld International. For the fiscal year ended Oct. 31, the company is forecasting €1.5 million net profits on €8 million revenues. "So it's quite a strong business and we have a good cash position," Kilty said.

Biotrin, which was established in 1992, raised €16.9 million in three funding rounds from Irish, UK and U.S. investors. The company now plans to grow the business but will continue to explore exit opportunities for investors, Kilty said.

About 80 percent of its revenues are derived from its infectious diseases diagnostics business, of which its Parvovirus B19 product is the largest component. The virus can cause miscarriages during pregnancy. Kilty said that 8 percent to 9 percent of pregnant women in the U.S. currently undergo screening with the test. Biotrin is developing a rapid version of the test for the doctor's office market.

It also is planning to launch a test for human herpesvirus-8, the causative agent of Kaposi's sarcoma, following its purchase of the enabling technology from Diavir GmbH, of Altomuenster, Germany, earlier this year. Predictive toxicology is its second line of business. It is built around Biotrin's collection of predictive biomarkers that provide early indications of organ damage.