By Jeffrey McCracken and David Welch
April 15 (Bloomberg) -- Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. is the leading bidder for Life Technologies Corp., having won exclusive negotiating rights over the weekend with a bid for more than $75 a share, said two people familiar with the matter.
Life was trying to finish a deal to announce before the market opens in New York today, and the people said there is no guarantee an agreement will be reached. Thermo Fisher’s all-cash bid gives Life a value of at least $12.8 billion. Life had sought final bids by April 12, said the people, asking not to be named because the process is private.
Life, a maker of DNA-sequencing equipment whose market value exceeds $11 billion, has been reviewing its options for at least three months, using Deutsche Bank AG and Moelis & Co. as advisers. Carlsbad, California-based Life’s shares have gained 24 percent since Jan. 17, the day before it publicly disclosed the strategic review.
Earlier offers valuing Life at as much as $11.8 billion were received from Waltham, Massachusetts-based Thermo Fisher, the second-biggest maker of life-sciences equipment by market value, and a private equity consortium led by Blackstone Group LP, according to people familiar with the matter. Agilent Technologies Inc. is the largest life-sciences equipment maker.
The Blackstone consortium wasn’t prepared to pay $70 a share or more, the people said yesterday. Blackstone’s group included Carlyle Group LP, KKR & Co. and Singapore’s Temasek Holdings Pte., people had said. The consortium had an initial bid of about $65 a share and was waiting to see how the other bidders fared before increasing its offer.
A bid of about $75 a share would be 10 percent more than Life’s closing price of $68 on April 12. Suzanne Hatcher, a spokeswoman for Life, and Ron O’Brien, a spokesman for Thermo Fisher, didn’t return calls seeking comment.
St. Louis-based Sigma-Aldrich Corp. also expressed interest in Life, two people familiar with the matter said. If a deal is not done with Thermo Fisher, Sigma-Aldrich may enter discussions to buy Life, one of the people said.
The investment probably will pay off for Paulson & Co., Life’s second largest shareholder as of Dec. 31, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. If the company is sold at more than $75 a share, Paulson will make close to $400 million on its investment this year, said a person familiar with the matter. The institutional investment firm bought most of its shares at less than $50 a share, the person said.
Life’s products can be used to provide a blueprint of a person’s DNA, generating information that may eventually be used to diagnose disease, identify the risks of certain conditions or better target medicines. Life also sells products that scientists use in labs for cancer and stem-cell research.
Sales for Life have increased by just about 5 percent on average in each of the past three years, compared with a 20 percent gain at San Diego-based Illumina Inc., data compiled by Bloomberg show.