UPDATE 2-Investor urges Thoratec to sell itself

Mon Dec 5, 2011 6:23pm EST

* Oracle Investment says new owner could help spur growth

* Thoratec shares rise 3.5 percent in after-hours trade

Dec 5 (Reuters) - A long-time investor in shares of Thoratec Corp is urging the cardiac device maker to put itself up for sale.

Oracle Investment Management Inc of Greenwich, Connecticut, said it has sent a letter to Thoratec directors urging the board to hire an investment bank to conduct an auction to find an acquirer for the company.

Oracle Investment said it believes Thoratec, a maker of left ventricular assist devices that help the heart circulate blood in heart failure patients, will be unable to maximize shareholder value as an independent public company.

Oracle Investment, which owns about 5 percent of Thoratec's shares, said it expects the LVAD market to become one of the fastest-growing and largest in the medical device field, with a potential to generate $5 billion to $10 billion in sales.

"Although Thoratec management initiated development of the LVAD market, recent market growth has been unsatisfactory and Thoratec has not meaningfully expanded its market share in many of the most promising European markets," Oracle Investment said in the letter, signed by its president, Larry Feinberg.

"It is now clear that the market clout, deep capital resources, and relevant experience of a larger and more tenured medtech company is required to accelerate the penetration of this burgeoning market opportunity."

Thoratec, based in Pleasanton, California, could not be reached immediately for comment.

Thoratec last month cut its full-year sales forecast, sending its shares down sharply.

The company competes against HeartWare International Inc in the heart pump market.

Thoratec shares rose 3.5 percent to $31.50 in extended trade.

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