Sonic, Biogroup Among Bidders for $5 Billion Diagnostics Firm Unilabs

Sonic, Biogroup Among Bidders for for $5 Billion Diagnostics Firm Unilabs

Australian medical lab company Sonic Healthcare Ltd. and French rival Biogroup-LCD are among bidders for Unilabs, the diagnostics firm being sold by Apax Partners, according to people familiar with the matter. 

Private equity house TPG and Belgian investment firm Groupe Bruxelles Lambert SA have also submitted offers for the Swiss business, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information. A sale could value Unilabs at about $5 billion, one of the people said.

Brookfield Asset Management Inc. is considering teaming up with one of the bidders, the people said. Deliberations are ongoing, and Apax could decide to keep Unilabs if bids don’t meet its expectations, according to the people. 

Spokespeople for Apax, Brookfield, GBL and TPG declined to comment. Representatives for Sonic and Biogroup-LCD didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. 

Shares of Sonic Healthcare jumped 3.2% in Sydney on Friday, their biggest gain in more than three weeks.

Unilabs was taken private from the Swiss stock exchange in 2007 and merged with health-care provider Capio AB’s diagnostic division. Apax agreed to buy out Unilabs’ other investors in late 2016. The company operates more than 120 laboratories and 44 radiology units across Europe, according to Apax’s website

Apax considered a sale of the business in 2019, shortly before the Covid-19 outbreak froze dealmaking. Demand for hospital and laboratory assets increased amid the pandemic and a sale of Unilabs could rank among the largest transactions in European health care this year, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Such assets have been popular among private equity firms and investors. EQT AB agreed to buy French laboratories group Cerba HealthCare in a 4.5 billion-euro ($5 billion) deal in March. The following month, German laboratory operator Synlab AG and investors including buyout firm Cinven raised 671 million euros in an initial public offering.

Biogroup-LCD received an investment from Canadian pension fund Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec in 2018.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.