NEW YORK, March 19 (Reuters) - Roche Holding AG has joined the bidding for Life Technologies Corp and hired bankers to advise on a potential deal, while buyout firms KKR & Co LP and Hellman & Friedman LLC have teamed up to explore a joint bid, people familiar with the matter said.
Roche's interest in Life Tech, a biomedical laboratory equipment maker with a $10.7 billion market value, signals the Swiss drugmaker's continued interest in gene sequencing a year after its $6.8 billion hostile offer for Illumina Inc failed over price.
The potential bidders are joining what is turning out to be a competitive auction, as cheap financing and growing confidence about the U.S. economy prompt more companies and private equity firms to contemplate deals costing more than $10 billion.
Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc, Danaher Corp, and a buyout consortium comprising Blackstone Group LP, Carlyle Group LP, TPG Capital LP and Singapore's state investor Temasek Holdings are among the parties weighing bids, Reuters previously reported.
Bids are due in early April, the people said, asking not to be named because details of the auction are not public.
Representatives for KKR, Hellman & Friedman and Life Tech declined to comment. Roche said it does not comment on market speculation.