Report: Warburg to Seek IPO for Bausch & Lomb

So much for that $10 billion deal.

It looks like Bausch & Lomb is favoring an IPO instead of a sale, according to the Wall Street Journal. Possible buyers of Bausch resisted the $10 billion asking price and look to be more amenable to an $8 billion to $9 billion sale, the story says.

Warburg Pincus owns Bausch, a Rochester, N.Y.-based eye care company that provides contact lenses and lens care products. Warburg is pursuing a dual track process for Bausch, WSJ says. The company will continue to be up for sale while also preparing for an IPO, the story says.  The offering could come this spring or fall, WSJ says.

Five potential bidders have expressed interest in Bausch. They include Johnson & Johnson, Abbott Laboratories and Sanofi of France, the report says. Initial bids are due this week, the WSJ says.

Goldman Sachs is advising on the auction, Reuters has reported.

Warburg acquired Bausch & Lomb in 2007 for about $4.5 billion, including $830 million in debt. Warburg, along with Bank of America, Credit Suisse and J.P. Morgan Ventures, provided about $1.9 billion equity for the deal, according to an August 2007 SEC filing. Warburg’s investment came from its ninth PE fund, which raised $8 billion in 2005. The PE firm’s 10th pool collected $15 billion in 2007, Warburg’s web site says.

Last year, Warburg was fundraising for its 11th PE fund that has a $12 billion target, Reuters says.

Officials for Warburg couldn’t be reached for comment.

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