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J&J receives private equity offers for diagnostics unit: sources

By Soyoung Kim, Greg Roumeliotis and Jessica Toonkel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Some of the world's largest private equity firms have made preliminary offers for Johnson & Johnson's Ortho Clinical Diagnostics unit, which makes blood screening equipment and laboratory blood tests and could fetch around $5 billion, several people familiar with the matter said on Monday.

Blackstone Group LP, KKR & Co LP, Bain Capital LLC, Carlyle Group LP and BC Partners Ltd are among the buyout firms that submitted first-round bids last week and are waiting to hear back this week on who made the shortlist, the sources said.

The people spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss details of the process publicly. Johnson & Johnson and Carlyle did not respond to requests for comment while Blackstone, KKR, Bain and BC Partners declined to comment.

The unit for sale, whose tests are considered older and less profitable than modern molecular diagnostics, has annual sales of about $2 billion.

Healthcare conglomerate J&J said in January it would explore strategic alternatives for the unit and cautioned that the process could take anywhere from about 12 to 24 months. It asked JPMorgan Chase & Co to run the sale of the unit, people familiar told Reuters earlier this month.

J&J's decision to divest the division comes as drugmakers are shedding businesses and cutting costs in response to overseas price controls and pressure on payments from insurers and the government.

Pfizer Inc, for instance, just spun off its animal health products business, and Abbott Laboratories split off its branded drugs unit early this year.

TPG is one private equity firm not participating in J&J's auction, the people said. TPG acquired a competing provider of blood testing products, Immucor Inc, for $1.97 billion in 2011. A TPG spokesman declined to comment.

(Reporting by Soyoung Kim, Greg Roumeliotis and Jessica Toonkel in New York; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

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