Private equity circles Merge Healthcare -sources

NEW YORK Thu Nov 8, 2012 3:46pm EST

NEW YORK Nov 8 (Reuters) - Merge Healthcare, a provider of medical imaging software solutions that is exploring a sale, has attracted interest from at least five private equity firms, according to people familiar with the matter.

Thoma Bravo LLC, GTCR LLC, Welsh Carson Anderson & Stowe, Francisco Partners and Avista Capital Partners are among the buyout firms that have had meetings with the company's management and are considering submitting offers this month, the people said.

Chicago, Illinois-based Merge Healthcare said in September it appointed New York-based investment bank Allen & Company LLC to evaluate strategic alternatives, including a possible sale. The company last week reported a third-quarter net loss per diluted share of 4 cents, four times the loss it posted in the third quarter of 2011.

Merge Healthcare, Thoma Bravo, GTCR and Avista declined to comment while representatives of Welsh Carson Anderson & Stowe and Francisco Partners did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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