Exclusive: Roche joins Life Tech auction; KKR, H&F team up - sources

Tue Mar 19, 2013 4:42pm EDT
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By Soyoung Kim and Greg Roumeliotis

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Roche Holding AG and a buyout group comprising KKR & Co LP and Hellman & Friedman LLC have joined the bidding for Life Technologies Corp, a genetic testing company coveted for its advanced diagnostics and steady cash flow, according to people familiar with the matter.

Roche's interest in Life Tech, a biomedical laboratory equipment maker with an $11 billion market value, signals the Swiss drugmaker's continued interest in gene sequencing a year after its $6.8 billion hostile offer for Illumina Inc failed over price.

The potential bidders are joining what is turning out to be a competitive auction, as cheap financing and growing confidence in the U.S. economy prompt more companies and private equity firms to contemplate deals costing more than $10 billion.

Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc, Danaher Corp and a buyout consortium of Blackstone Group LP, Carlyle Group LP, TPG Capital LP and Singapore's state investor, Temasek Holdings, are among the parties weighing bids, Reuters previously reported.

Healthcare companies have been attracted to Life Tech by the scale and synergies that a tie-up could bring while private equity firms have found the Carlsbad, California-based company's reliable cash flow appealing, people familiar with the matter said.

Bids are due in early April, said the people, who asked not to be named because details of the auction are not public.

Life Tech shares, which were down 1 percent before the news, ended up 1 percent at $63.58 on Tuesday. They are up more than 30 percent since the start of the year on hopes that the company's exploration of strategic alternatives will lead to a sale.

Representatives for KKR, Hellman & Friedman and Life Tech declined to comment. Roche said it does not comment on market speculation.   Continued...

The logo of the Swiss drugmaker Roche is seen on a factory in Burgdorf near Bern November 17, 2010. REUTERS/Pascal Lauener