August 28, 2018 / 9:30 PM / in 2 months

Exclusive - Sterilisation firm Sotera Health explores sale for nearly $5 billion: sources

(Reuters) - Sotera Health, a private-equity owned company that operates facilities that sterilise medical products and food, is exploring a potential sale worth as much as $5 billion (3.92 billion pounds)including debt, people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday.

The company’s owners, Warburg Pincus and GTCR, are working with investment banks to assist them in the sales process, the people said, asking not to be named because the matter is private. Discussions are in the early stages and there is no guarantee a transaction will result, the sources added.

If a deal to buy the company is successful, it will be one of the largest private equity deals in the healthcare industry this year.

Warburg Pincus declined to comment. GTCR and Sotera did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Sotera, which changed its name from Sterigenics International last year, could appeal to both private equity buyers and strategic buyers given the stability of its business, one of the people said.

The global private equity industry is sitting on more than more than $1 trillion in uninvested capital and is looking for attractive investments in many industries.

Earlier this year, buyout firm KKR & Co (KKR.N) agreed to acquire Envision Healthcare Corp EVHC.N, one of the biggest U.S. providers of physicians to hospitals, for $9.9 billion, including debt.

Ohio-based Sotera has earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation of around $400 million a year, the people said. As a private company, it does not release earnings publicly.

Sotera was acquired by GTCR in 2011 from private investment firms Silverfleet Capital and PPM America Capital Partners. In 2015, it sold a majority stake to Warburg Pincus.

The private equity firms have grown the business through a series of acquisitions, including a 2014 deal for Nordion, a producer of materials used in the sterilization process. Earlier this year, it acquired Gibraltar Laboratories, a provider of microbiology and analytical chemistry testing.

Sotera also sold its medical isotopes business to BWX Technologies Inc earlier this year, which it said allowed it to focus on faster-growing sterilization technologies.

Reporting by Joshua Franklin and Carl O'Donnell in New York; Editing by Bill Rigby

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