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Gardner Denver Said to Draw Interest From SPX, Buyout Firms

Gardner Denver Inc., an industrial-equipment maker with a market value of about $3.5 billion, has drawn interest from strategic bidder SPX Corp. and at least four buyout firms, said three people with knowledge of the process.

Private-equity firms Bain Capital LLC, Blackstone Group LP, Onex Corp. and TPG Capital are also looking at the Wayne, Pennsylvania-based company, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the process is private. Bids are due this week, the people said. SPX has a market valuation in line with Gardner’s, at about $3.4 billion.

With at least five potential suitors interested in Gardner, there is increased likelihood that the company will be sold following pressure from activist investor ValueAct Holdings LP, said one of the people. The investment firm, which owns more than 5 percent of the stock, urged Gardner to consider a sale after Chief Executive Barry Pennypacker resigned in July.

Gardner dropped 1.5 percent to $70.52 as of 4 p.m. New York time, while SPX fell 5.3 percent to $67.42.

Gardner hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to defend itself against ValueAct, according to the people familiar with the situation. On Oct. 25, the company announced it was studying options including a sale or merger. Michael Larsen, Gardner’s chief financial officer, is serving as interim CEO.

Vikram Kini, a spokesman for Gardner, and Ryan Taylor, a spokesman for SPX, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Compressors, Pumps

Charlyn Lusk, a spokeswoman for Bain at Stanton Public Relations & Marketing, Owen Blicksilver, a spokesman for TPG at Owen Blicksilver Public Relations, and Christine Anderson, a spokeswoman for for Blackstone, declined to comment. A representative for Onex didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Reuters previously reported that Bain, Onex, TPG and Blackstone were among the private-equity firms considering an offer for Gardner.

Founded in 1859, Gardner operates in 34 countries and makes compressors, pumps and other products for industries including manufacturing and energy exploration. Because of slowing demand, it is now focused on boosting margins, including the restructuring of its European operations, according to a July 20 conference call with analysts.

The company was spun off from Cooper Industries Plc in 1994. Charlotte, North Carolina-based SPX makes industrial equipment and provides services for manufacturing companies.

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