January 14, 2011 / 6:57 PM / 9 years ago

UK's Smiths rejects $3.9 billion bid for medical unit

LONDON (Reuters) - British engineering firm Smiths (SMIN.L) rejected a 2.45 billion pound ($3.88 billion) cash bid approach for its medical services unit, which a person familiar with the matter said came from buyout firm Apax.

The indicative bid was presented as a “best and final” offer, but the price was not high enough to justify entering disposal talks, Smiths said in a statement after the stock market closed on Friday.

Smiths did not name the suitor but the person familiar with the matter said it was Apax, confirming an earlier report by the Financial Times.

Apax was not immediately available for comment. The private equity firm recently failed in its attempt to buy Danish outsourcing giant ISS from rivals EQT and Goldman Sachs for about $8.5 billion.

“The Board has carefully considered this approach with its advisers and has concluded that it would not be in the interests of shareholders to pursue discussions on the basis of an indication at this price level,” Smiths said.

Shares in Smiths, an engineering conglomerate whose products range from x-ray scanners to fuel hoses, have been supported over the past year in part by speculation of a break-up.

Smiths Medical is the company’s biggest division, accounting for 37 percent of total operating profit in its most recent financial year.

Smiths shares closed flat at 1,283 pence.

Reporting by Myles Neligan; additional reporting by Quentin Webb; Editing by Erica Billingham

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