12/12/2012 8:07:52 AM
Warburg Pincus LLC hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) to explore the sale of its Bausch & Lomb Inc. eye-care company, said two people with knowledge of the matter. Warburg may seek at least $10 billion for the business, said one of the people, who asked not to be named because the process is confidential. The asset may only fetch as much as $8 billion, said another person familiar with the deliberations. Bausch & Lomb makes products from contact lenses and solutions to equipment used in eye surgery. Warburg Pincus bought the Rochester, New York-based company for $3.7 billion in September 2007 after the eye-products maker was marred by accounting errors, lawsuits and the recall of one of its contact lens solutions. Goldman this month contacted health-care companies such as Sanofi (SAN), GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK) and Merck & Co., one person said. Other companies, such as Abbott (ABT) Laboratories, also will be contacted, according to that person. Warburg Pincus had talked to financial advisers about taking Bausch & Lomb public, the person said. The New York-based private-equity firm chose Goldman Sachs to run a limited sales process, and if a buyer can’t be found Warburg Pincus may pursue an IPO, according to the person. Before Bausch & Lomb was taken private, Advanced Medical Optics Inc., now owned by Abbott Park, Illinois-based Abbott, tried to buy the company in July 2007 with a $4.3 billion bid. Bausch & Lomb’s chairman Fred Hassan, who is also a managing director at Warburg Pincus, has a history as a dealmaker in the health-care industry. He engineered the $37 billion takeover in March 2000 of Monsanto Co. by Pharmacia & Upjohn, he sold Pharmacia to New York-based Pfizer Inc. for $58 billion in 2003, and led Schering-Plough Corp. when it was sold to Whitehouse Station, New Jersey-based Merck for $41 billion in 2009.