Source says drugmakers contacted about possible $10-billion buy of Bausch & Lomb

Drugmakers including GlaxoSmithKline, Merck & Co. and Sanofi have been contacted about a possible purchase of eye-care company Bausch & Lomb, according to a person familiar with the matter. Other companies, such as Abbott, will also be contacted about the sale, according to the source.

Bausch & Lomb owner Warburg Pincus is reportedly exploring a sale of the company, with one person suggesting the private-equity firm may seek at least $10 billion for the business. However, another source indicated that Bausch & Lomb may only fetch as much as $8 billion. The first person added that Warburg Pincus has chosen Goldman Sachs to run a limited sales process, and if a buyer can’t be found it may pursue an initial public offering.

Warburg Pincus bought Bausch & Lomb in 2007 for about $4.5 billion, including $830 million of debt. Before the company was taken private, Advanced Medical Optics, now owned by Abbott, tried to acquire the business with a $4.3-billion bid.

Bausch & Lomb spokesman Adam Grossberg said the company "is regularly contacted by companies with strategic interest in our company, and we continue to aspire to a return to the public markets in the future." He added "however, our focus remains on building the best global eye-health company, and therefore won’t comment further."

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