* Has approached healthcare companies about a deal-source
* CEO said last summer there was investor appetite for an
NEW YORK Dec 11 Warburg Pincus LLC has mandated
Goldman Sachs Group Inc to explore a sale of eye care
company Bausch & Lomb Inc, hoping to fetch more than $10
billion, a person familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.
The private equity firm has asked Goldman to approach
potential buyers for Bausch & Lomb, including major healthcare
companies, but could also turn to an initial public offering
(IPO) as an alternative, the source said on condition of
anonymity because discussions are confidential.
"Bausch & Lomb is regularly contacted by companies with
strategic interest in our company, and we continue to aspire to
a return to the public markets in the future," Bausch & Lomb
spokesman Adam Grossberg said. "However, our focus remains on
building the best global eye-health company, and therefore won't
Warburg Pincus and Goldman Sachs declined to comment.
Bloomberg News reported on Goldman Sachs' appointment to sell
Bausch & Lomb earlier on Tuesday.
Founded in 1853, Rochester, New York-based Bausch & Lomb
makes contact lenses, eye drugs and surgical equipment and sells
its products in more than 100 countries.
The company was taken private by Warburg Pincus in 2007 for
about $4.5 billion, including $830 million of debt, after it
fell out of Wall Street's favor because of product recalls, big
charges and restatements of earnings.
Since then it has undergone a transformation under Chief
Executive Brent Saunders, who joined in March 2010 and has built
up the business through acquisitions, most recently taking over
Germany's Technolas Perfect Vision GmbH, an eye laser firm, in
Bausch & Lomb's main competitors are healthcare heavyweights
- Johnson & Johnson, Novartis and Abbott
Laboratories - for whom eye care is only a minor focus.
In an interview with Reuters in July, Saunders said his
company aspired to return to the public markets and that it saw
strong investor appetite for an IPO.