Bausch & Lomb Owners Shift Focus to IPO

Published: Jan 29, 2013

Bausch & Lomb Inc.'s private-equity owners are leaning toward launching an initial public offering of shares in the eye-health company after possible buyers of the business balked at the asking price of at least $10 billion, according to people familiar with the matter. Warburg Pincus LLC, which owns Bausch & Lomb, has fielded interest from five potential buyers of the business and asked for initial bids this week, said people familiar with the process. But the bidders appear unwilling to meet the private-equity firm's asking price and there is now a high likelihood it will stage an IPO this spring or fall, one of the people said. A Bausch & Lomb spokesman said the company "remains focused on building the best global eye health company, for our customers and the patients they serve." Warburg had hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to explore a sale of Bausch & Lomb after receiving informal expressions of interest from several large health-care companies, people familiar with the matter said in December. Suitors including Johnson & Johnson, JNJ +1.05% Abbott Laboratories ABT +0.58% and France's Sanofi SA SAN.FR -0.79% have been put off by the asking price, according to people familiar with the matter. A more-approachable price for the potential buyers would be between $8 billion and $9 billion, some of the people said. Neither Abbott nor Johnson & Johnson is expected to pursue a formal bid for the business, say people familiar with the matter. The status of other companies' intentions was unclear. Warburg Pincus hasn't abandoned the idea of a sale. Warburg Pincus will pursue a so-called dual-track approach, preparing for an IPO while leaving the door open should an acceptable offer emerge before a share sale, the people said.

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