Report: Thermo in the lead with $12B Life Tech offer

Thermo Fisher Scientific ($TMO) has leapt into the lead in the bidding war for Life Technologies ($LIFE), Reuters' sources say, stepping in with an offer that values the company at about $12 billion.

Life Technologies CEO Greg Lucier

Thermo has long been in the rumored mix of suitors for the sequencing outfit, alongside Roche ($RHHBY), Danaher ($DHR) and a gaggle of private equity firms considering a leveraged buyout. Reuters cites three unnamed sources close to the discussions saying Thermo has an advantage over other bidders because it can get more cost savings out of absorbing Life and is willing to buy the company whole.

However, earlier reports claimed Life CEO Greg Lucier and the company's board would prefer the private equity route, as getting shuffled into another life sciences company would cost them much of their autonomy. On the other hand, it's entirely possible Thermo's bid simply outprices any on the table from the likes of TPG, Blackstone and Carlyle.

In any case, the rumored $12 billion bid comes in well below early reports of Life going for upward of $15 billion. As Reuters notes, Thermo's pricing would value the company between $65 and $70 per share, a negligible multiple considering it opened at $64.82 on Tuesday.

Keeping the price down, perhaps, is that despite Life's size, its growth hasn't been terribly impressive. The company has paced an average revenue increase of 5% over the past three years, which, compared with rival Illumina's ($ILMN) 24% sales hike, is less than thrilling.

Life projects it will grow another 3% to 5% in 2013, good for between $3.9 billion and $4 billion in revenue.

- read the Reuters story

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