• Rothschild advising buyout firms on options such as sale, IPO
  • Sale of Unilabs could fetch as much as 1.5 billion euros

Buyout firms Apax Partners and Nordic Capital are exploring options including a sale of Swiss diagnostics business Unilabs SA, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Apax and Nordic Capital are working with financial advisory firm Rothschild on options including a sale or initial public offering of the Geneva-based company, the people said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private.

A sale to a private-equity firm or another diagnostics company is the likeliest outcome, the people said. Unilabs, which was founded in 1987, may fetch as much as 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion), they said. No final decision has been made, and the owners may choose not to sell, they said.

Representatives for Apax, Nordic Capital and Rothschild declined to comment.

The medical diagnostics industry has seen a wave of consolidation in recent months amid a boom in health-care deals. In June, buyout firm Cinven agreed to acquire a majority stake in German laboratory operator Synlab Group. A month earlier, Cinven also bought French rival Labco for an enterprise value of 1.2 billion euros.

Unilabs in August raised its profit and sales targets after second-quarter revenue climbed 12 percent to 172.1 million euros compared with a year earlier. Its adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for the quarter rose 31 percent to 27.2 million euros.

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