Danaher, Cooper to sell tools venture to Bain for $1.6 billion

Wed Oct 10, 2012 9:51am EDT

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(Reuters) - Danaher Corp (DHR.N) and Cooper Industries CBE.N will sell their hand and power tools joint venture, Apex Tool Group, to Bain Capital for about $1.6 billion, joining a growing group of U.S. conglomerates that is divesting its non-core assets.

The deal underscores the robust appetite of private equity firms, backed by cheap financing, for assets sold by companies or other buyout firms.

Danaher said it would receive about $650 million in net proceeds from the sale, which is expected to be completed in the first half of 2013. A statement from Cooper did not mention proceeds.

Danaher and Cooper each own 50 percent of Apex, which makes Crescent wrenches, Lufkin measuring tapes and hand tools for Sears Holdings Corp's (SHLD.O) Craftsman brand.

Reuters reported in September that Bain, the private equity firm co-founded by U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney, was close to buying Apex, prevailing over other buyout firms like Platinum Equity LLC and American Securities LLC in an auction.

Apex's rival, Stanley Black & Decker Inc (SWK.N), said Tuesday it would sell its door-lock and bath-fixture business to Spectrum Brands Holdings Inc (SPB.N) for $1.4 billion to concentrate on its higher-margin businesses, including hand and power tools.

Danaher, which makes medical as well as industrial products, said last month it would buy Iris International Inc IRIS.O for about $355 million to expand its medical diagnostics business.

Barclays (BARC.L) is lead adviser to Bain in the transaction, and provided committed financing along with Goldman Sachs Group (GS.N), Morgan Stanley (MS.N), RBC Capital Markets, Citigroup (C.N) and Deutsche Bank Securities (DBKGn.DE).

Goldman Sachs was Apex's exclusive financial adviser.

Apex was formed in July 2010 by a combination of the tool businesses of Danaher and Cooper, which is in the process of being acquired by Eaton Corp (ETN.N) for $11.8 billion. Eaton is primarily interested in Cooper's line of electrical products, such as lighting and wiring devices.

Based in Sparks, Maryland, Apex has annual revenue of about $1.5 billion and employs about 8,000 people in 30 countries, according to its website.

(Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in Bangalore and Soyoung Kim in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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