Stockbyte, the Co Kerry-based stock photographs company, has been bought out by multinational Getty Images for $135m. The sale will see the closure of the operation in Tralee and the loss of 28 jobs.

Company founder Jerry Kennelly said it was a bitter sweet day, but added that the staff will receive a total of €5m after tax between them in recognition of their contribution to the company's success.

Getty Images spokesperson Alison Crombie said they would begin discussions with staff on redundancy packages as soon as possible and the Tralee operation would be wound down by the end of June.

Stockbyte and Stockdisc were founded ten years ago by Jerry Kennelly and his wife Joanna and have a library of over 85,000 royalty free photographs which are used by advertisers and publishers worldwide including Time Magazine, Newsweek and Saatchi & Saatchi. 

The royalty free stock photography industry worldwide is estimated to be worth $500m annually. Stockbyte and Stockdisc are believed to have a 10% share of this global market.

Jerry Kennelly won the Ernst & Young Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year Award last year.