PE firms explore joint bid for Life Tech: sources

NEW YORK Tue Mar 5, 2013 9:13pm EST

A general view of the lobby outside of the Carlyle Group offices in Washington, May 3, 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

A general view of the lobby outside of the Carlyle Group offices in Washington, May 3, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Private equity firms including Blackstone Group LP (BX.N) and Carlyle Group (CG.O) are exploring a joint offer for Life Technologies Corp LIFE.O, a biomedical laboratory equipment maker with a $10 billion market value, two people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

The buyout consortium - which also comprises private equity firm TPG Capital and Singapore's state investor Temasek Holdings - is at a preliminary stage of discussions, and it remains unclear if the group will proceed with a bid, the two sources said.

The group thinks Life Tech's stock price has reached a level where it would be tough to make the economics of a deal attractive, the sources added, asking not to be named because the matter is not public.

The news came a month after the company, which is in the middle of a strategic review, said that its board had made no decisions about a sale and that it was open to all options.

Given the sheer size of a potential leveraged buyout involving the Carlsbad, California-based company, private equity firms were expected to team up for an offer, several sources told Reuters as early as January.

Representatives for Life Tech, Temasek, Blackstone, Carlyle and TPG declined comment.

Life Tech has held discussions with rivals such as Thermo Fisher Scientific (TMO.N) as well as buyout firms about a potential sale, but most of the bidders have felt that a run-up in the company's shares made a deal less desirable, people familiar with the matter have told Reuters.

Shares of Life Tech have risen 26 percent so far this year on expectations of a potential sale, after the company announced in January that the board was working with Deutsche Bank and Moelis to explore strategic alternatives.

The stock closed up 3.3 percent at $61.75 on Nasdaq on Tuesday. Bloomberg News reported earlier in the day that the private equity firms had joined forces to consider an offer for Life Tech.

(Reporting by Soyoung Kim in New York, additional reporting by Jessica Toonkel; Editing by Diane Craft and Prudence Crowther)

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