Life Sale Said to Shift to Strategics as Buyout Firms Go

The sale of Life Technologies Corp. has shifted in favor of strategic buyers for the maker of DNA-sequencing equipment as some buyout firms drop out, said people with knowledge of the matter.

The odds are growing that either Danaher Corp. or Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. could buy Carlsbad, California-based Life, said two people, asking not to be identified because the matter is private.

KKR Inc., which was part of a group of bidders, has withdrawn from the process, two people said. TPG, which was bidding along with Blackstone Group LP, Carlyle Group, and Temasek Holdings Pte., withdrew from that group, they said.

Life, whose market value tops $10 billion, initially sought a private equity firm to acquire the company in a leveraged buyout. Strategic bidders later expressed interest and may be in better position because opportunities to cut costs mean they could make a higher offer, the person said.

Roche Holding AG has also expressed an interest in Life, said a person with knowledge of the matter. The Swiss drug maker is only interested in part of the business and is less likely to be the final buyer, the person said.

DNA Blueprint

Life fell less than 1 percent to $63.99 at the close in New York. The shares have gained 36 percent in the past 12 months. Danaher gained less than 1 percent to $61.67, while Thermo Fisher fell less than 1 percent to $75.96.

The company’s products can be used to provide a blueprint of a person’s DNA, information that may eventually be used to diagnose disease, identify the risks of certain conditions or better target medicines. Last year Life’s peer Illumina Inc. rebuffed repeated overtures from Roche.

The private equity firms had been in talks with banks to arrange financing for their bids, people familiar with the matter said earlier this month. Bids are due in mid-April and a private equity consortium could still end up being the winning bidder, one person said.

Life said in January that directors were working with Deutsche Bank, as well as Moelis & Co., to examine strategic alternatives.

“Life Technologies has no comment,” said Suzanne Hatcher, a spokeswoman for the company, in a telephone interview yesterday. Owen Blicksilver, TPG’s outside spokesman, declined to comment as did Roche spokeswoman Silvia Dobry. Kristi Huller, a spokeswoman at KKR, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment yesterday.