Bloomberg: 3i Group looking to unload Dx firm Labco

U.K. private-equity giant 3i Group is looking to unload its controlling stake in Labco, a diagnostics firm valued at about $1.23 billion, Bloomberg reports, citing anonymous sources.

3i decided to organize a formal sale in September after being approached by private-equity bidders, the news service reported, with rumored suitors including Blackstone Group, EQT Partners and Bain Capital.

Labco operates more than 250 labs around Europe, providing more than 2,500 diagnostic tests, and the company's first-quarter earnings jumped 19% over 2011, according to Bloomberg. Labco employs about 4,500 people and administers assays related to oncology, HIV and microbiology.

In June, a Labco spokesperson confirmed that the company had received unsolicited offers, but everyone involved in the rumored sale has declined to comment, Bloomberg reported.

3i has put nearly $160 million into Labco since 2008, and the diagnostics firm has made 80 acquisitions since then, selling about $613 million in 8.5% notes in 2011, according to the news service.

- read the Bloomberg report