Beckman Coulter Inc. of Brea, a maker of laboratory equipment, is exploring a sale after it was approached by buyout firms interested in taking the company private, people with direct knowledge of the matter said.
Beckman has hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to study whether to go private or search for a strategic buyer, said the people, who asked not to be named because the talks are private. Blackstone Group and Apollo Global Management are among the firms that approached Beckman, said two of the people. The process is in early stages, and any deal for the company is likely to be months away, the people said.
General Electric Co., Danaher Corp. and 3M Co. are among industrial companies that have recently told financial advisers they are interested in acquiring makers of lab equipment or scientific instruments used in labs, said one of the people.
Beckman said in September that Chief Executive Scott Garrett had resigned and appointed J. Robert Hurley as interim president and CEO while it searches for a successor. Beckman probably would seek at least $90 a share in a buyout, and might command as much as $160 a share, said Dan Leonard, an analyst with Leerink Swann & Co. in New York.
"Beckman Coulter should attract interest from both strategic and financial buyers," Leonard said in a research report. "Beckman's diagnostic lab testing platforms stick well to customers and drive significant consumable revenues."
Beckman shares jumped $14.99, or 26.3%, to $72.08 on Friday. The stock, down 13% this year before Friday, rebounded from a low of $44.58 on Sept. 7, the day Garrett's resignation was disclosed.
Beckman's biggest business is making laboratory equipment used in scientific research and in hospitals. The company had revenue of $3.3 billion in 2009. It had $285 million in cash and cash equivalents as of Sept. 10.