The field of private equity firms weighing a buyout of Beckman Coulter Inc. (NYSE:BEC) has narrowed, according to Reuters.
The auction for Brea, Calif.-based medical device and diagnostics maker reached its second round and interested firms have either paired up or dropped out of the bidding process.
Blackstone Group LP (NYSE:BX) and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co (NYSE:KKR) joined together in one bid, while Apollo Global Management LLC and Carlyle Group are also likely to band together, according to Reuters. The news service’s anonymous sources could not confirm whether TPG Capital, which had also been interested in Beckman, was still a player in the talks.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE:GS) is running the reported sale, which began in November with Beckman management wooing potential buyers. Two BEC rivals are also reportedly in the running, including Washington, D.C.-based conglomerate Danaher Corp. (NYSE:DHR), according to Reuters’ sources. Any strategic bids from competitors could boost the sale price for Beckman.
BEC share prices have increased about 34 percent since news of a possible acquisition broke Dec. 9, up from $57.09 — its highest price in more than two years. The stock was fetching $76.40 today in morning trading, up about 1.8 percent for the day.
The buyout interest comes at the tail end of a rough year for Beckman Coulter, in which it suffered through consecutive quarters of poor financial results, an expensive recall and the resignation of CEO Scott Garrett in September 2009.
But its most recent quarter marked a turnaround. Beckman posted third-quarter net earnings of $67.0 million, or 95 cents per share, on sales of $893.8 million during the three months ended Sept. 30. That compares with earnings of $1.5 million, or 2 cents per share, on sales of $822.8 million during the same period last year.