Warburg Pincus, which owns eye care giant Bausch + Lomb, has apparently struggled to find a buyer willing to pony up the reported $10 billion asking price, and now The Wall Street Journal reports that the private equity heavyweight is looking to take the company public.
Warburg hasn't totally ditched its sale plans, WSJ's sources say, instead planning a two-pronged strategy: Prepping for an IPO while keeping an open mind to suitors.
Last month, Warburg enlisted Goldman Sachs to explore a sale, and Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), Abbott Laboratories ($ABT) and Sanofi ($SNY) all kicked Bausch's tires at one point, but $10 billion proved too steep. Something between $8 billion and $9 billion would have been more palatable, the newspaper's sources report.
Of course, this could all be an elaborate ploy on Warburg's part to put some pressure on Bausch's potential owners, waving an IPO around as a negotiation tactic. In any case, WSJ reports that Abbott and J&J are likely out of the running.
But Bausch hasn't been standing pat since the rumors began. The company closed a deal for Germany ophthalmology laser outfit Technolas Perfect Vision this week, and Bausch has been steadily expanding its pharma offerings over the past year.
- read the WSJ report (sub. req.)