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Thermo Fisher nears $12.8 billion deal

Company gains exclusive negotiating right for Life Technologies

NEW YORK — Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. emerged as the leading bidder for Life Technologies Corp. Sunday, having won exclusive negotiating rights with a bid for more than $75 a share, said two people familiar with the matter.

Negotiators hope to finish a deal and announce it before the stock market opens in New York tomorrow, but the sources said an agreement is not imminent. The bid by Thermo Fisher, a life-sciences conglomerate based in Waltham, would value Life Technologies at about $12.8 billion.

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The deal would position Thermo Fisher strongly in DNA-sequencing markets and create a health-care technology giant with annual revenues of about $16 billion and 50,000 employees, according to published reports.

Life Technologies has been reviewing its options least three months, using Deutsche Bank AG and Moelis & Co. as advisers. Shares for the company, based in Carlsbad, Calif., have gained 24 percent since Jan. 17, the day before it publicly disclosed the strategic review. Life Technologies’ stock closed Friday at $68.

Executives had sought final bids by April 12, said the sources, who asked not to be identified because the process is private.

Earlier offers valuing Life Technologies at about $11.8 billion were received from Thermo Fisher, and a private equity consortium led by Blackstone Group LP, according to sources.

The Blackstone consortium included Carlyle Group LP, KKR & Co., and Singapore’s Temasek Holdings Pte., people had said. The consortium had an initial bid of about $65 a share.

St. Louis-based Sigma-Aldrich Corp. also expressed interest in Life, two people familiar with the matter said.

Suzanne Hatcher, a spokeswoman for Life, and Ron O’Brien, a spokesman for Thermo Fisher, did not return calls seeking comment.

Life’s products can be used to provide a blueprint of a person’s DNA, generating information that may eventually be used to diagnose disease, identify the risks of certain conditions, or better target medicines.

Sales for Life have increased by just about 5 percent on average in each of the past three years, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Life also sells products that scientists use in labs for cancer and stem-cell research.

Thermo Fisher was formed in 2006 in the merger of Thermo Electron Corp. and Fisher Scientific International Inc. Thermo Fisher has been expanding aggressively since then, including purchases of such diagnostics and medical supplies firms as Dionex Corp. and Phadia AB.

Thermo’s stock closed Friday at 79.59.

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