Exclusive: Thermo Fisher, Celltrion vie for Baxter's biopharma unit -sources

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The logo of Celltrion is seen at the company's headquarters in Incheon
The logo of Celltrion is seen at the company's headquarters in Incheon, South Korea, October 28, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

March 20 (Reuters) - U.S. scientific instruments maker Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc (TMO.N) and South Korea's Celltrion Inc (068270.KS) are among those competing to acquire the biopharma solutions business of medical device maker Baxter International Inc (BAX.N), according to people familiar with the matter.

The divestment, which the sources said could fetch more than $4 billion, would help Baxter pay down debt following its $10.5 billion acquisition of medical device maker Hill-Rom Holdings in 2021. Baxter, which has a market value of $19 billion, had total debt of $16.6 billion as of the end of December.

Private equity firms, including KKR & Co (KKR.N) and Carlyle Group (CG.O), have also expressed interest in the Baxter business, the sources said. Other bidders could still emerge, they added.

The sources requested anonymity because the matter is confidential. Baxter, Thermo Fisher and KKR declined to comment. Celltrion and Carlyle did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Baxter said in January it was exploring alternatives for its biopharma solutions business and would also spin off its kidney care units.

The Deerfield, Illinois-based company focuses on areas such as critical care, surgical products, nutrition and pharmaceutical equipment.

Baxter's biopharma solutions unit supports drugmakers in the formulation, development and commercialization of drugs typically given by infusion or injection, such as biologics and vaccines.

Thermo Fisher, one of the world's largest suppliers of scientific equipment, has been making acquisitions in recent years to expand its offerings in contract research and manufacturing, including a $5.2 billion purchase of Patheon NV in 2017 and a $17.4 billion takeover of PPD Inc in 2021.

Celltrion, whose co-founder and chairman Seo Jung-jin is South Korea's richest person according to Forbes, is a biopharmaceutical company that also has a contract research and manufacturing arm.

Reporting by Anirban Sen and David Carnevali in New York Additional reporting by Chibuike Oguh in New York; Editing by Bill Berkrot

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Anirban Sen is the Editor in Charge for U.S. M&A at Reuters in New York, where he leads the coverage of the biggest deals. After starting with Reuters in Bangalore in 2009, Anirban left in 2013 to work as a technology deals reporter in several leading business news outlets in India, including The Economic Times and Mint. Anirban rejoined Reuters in 2019 as Editor in Charge, Finance to lead a team of reporters, covering everything from investment banking to venture capital. Anirban holds a history degree from Jadavpur University and a post-graduate diploma in journalism from the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media. Contact:+1 (646) 705 9409