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Carlyle Group Said to Be in Talks to Buy Drug Researcher PPD

Carlyle Group is in exclusive talks to buy Pharmaceutical Product Development Inc., a clinical research company, said five people with knowledge of the discussions.

Carlyle topped private-equity firms including Blackstone Group LP, KKR & Co. and Hellman & Friedman LLC that bid or expressed interest, said two of the people, who declined to be identified because the process was private. Most bids were between $33 a share and $38 a share, or as much as $4.3 billion, said the people. PPD rose 77 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $32.28 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading, giving the company a value of about $3.68 billion.

A purchase in the middle of this range for Wilmington, North Carolina-based PPD “would be an attractive deal for shareholders,” David Windley, an analyst at Jefferies & Co. in Nashville said in an e-mail. Going private might allow the drug research company “to explore more complex deal structures with clients,” he said

Carlyle is talking to other private-equity firms about joining it in an offer for the company, one person said. Rival bidders were informed last week that another firm had been given exclusivity to negotiate with PPD, said another person. Morgan Stanley is advising PPD, according to the people. The talks between Carlyle and PPD may still collapse.

Spokesmen for Carlyle, Morgan Stanley, Blackstone and KKR declined to comment. Hellman & Friedman and PPD didn’t return calls seeking comment.

Largest Deal

The acquisition would be the largest for Carlyle since announcing the $3.9 billion purchase of telecommunications-equipment maker CommScope Inc. in October. Washington-based Carlyle, which has announced deals valued at $10 billion in the last 12 months, is selling old investments and entering new ones as the company plans a formal process for its initial public offering. Carlyle announced today it would sell Insight Communications Co., a six-year investment, to Time Warner Cable Inc. for about $3 billion.

Pharmaceutical firms were not given the option of bidding on PPD, said two people familiar with the matter. Only private-equity funds were allowed to bid on the asset, they said.

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