April 17 (Reuters) - SharkNinja Operating LLC, the privately held U.S. manufacturer of Ninja blenders and Shark vacuum cleaners, is exploring a sale that it hopes will value it at more than $1.5 billion including debt, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.
The sale would be a key test of the company's brand, which it has developed through advertising on several television shopping networks. Private equity firms are among those that have expressed interest in SharkNinja, according to the sources.
SharkNinja has hired investment bank Goldman Sachs Group Inc to run an auction, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the sale process is confidential.
SharkNinja did not immediately respond to a request for comment, while Goldman Sachs declined to comment.
SharkNinja was originally known as Euro-Pro, a family-run company that started more than a century ago. It was renamed SharkNinja in 2015 by Mark Rosen, the third generation of his family to lead the business.
It has sought to build upon its brands over the last decade, extending its Shark vacuum business to include steam mops and irons, and its Ninja kitchen appliance business to include one-pot cookers as well as blenders.
SharkNinja also makes a drip coffee maker called "Ninja Coffee Bar," which is promoted by actress Sofia Vergara.
SharkNinja sells its products in stores and online in the United States and around the world.
SharkNinja's competitors include privately owned Dyson Ltd, a British company known for its namesake vacuum cleaners. (Reporting by Lauren Hirsch and Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis)