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Danaher Buying Beckman for $6.8 Billion

Brea-based medical instruments maker Beckman Coulter Inc. is being acquired for $6.8 billion—or about 33% more than what the company was worth on Friday—by Danaher Corp. of Washington, D.C.

The deal, which includes Beckman Coulter debt, ends two months of offers and jockeying for Beckman by private equity firms, Danaher and others.

It’s expected to close by July with Beckman Coulter’s board already having approved the deal.

Beckman’s shares closed up nearly 10% on the news to a market value of $5.7 billion.

Danaher, a conglomerate known for Craftsman tools sold at Sears stores, is buying Beckman to bolster its growing healthcare business.

Beckman makes instruments and chemicals used by hospitals and medical laboratories running tests for doctors as well as by medical researchers and drug developers.

In 2006, Danaher paid $2 billion for Sybron Dental Specialties Inc., a maker of dental products that’s based in Orange and plans to move to Anaheim this year.

Beckman could continue operating on its own as part of Danaher, as Sybron has done.

Danaher said it expects to see $250 million in cost savings from having Beckman as part of the company.

Last month, Danaher emerged as the lead bidder for Beckman when a private equity firm, New York-based Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., dropped out of the bidding.

KKR had been part of a bid with San Francisco-based TPG Capital and New York’s Blackstone Group LP.

It pulled out over concern that bids for Beckman were growing too high amid interest from Danaher, according to Bloomberg.

A second private equity group made up of New York-based Apollo Global Management LLC and Carlyle Group of Washington, D.C., also vied for Beckman.

The company put itself up for sale in December after a turbulent 2010.

Beckman has wrestled with quality and regulatory issues stemming from an early 2010 recall of a profitable heart disease test known as troponin.

The recall drove a chief executive departure, a big stock drop, a 2010 profit revision and attracted private equity firms as possible buyers.

Danaher’s offer is about 45% more than what Beckman was worth in early December, before speculation of a sale began.

The deal stands to end an independent Beckman’s reign as the county’s oldest healthcare company.

Founder Arnold Beckman, an Orange County icon, moved his medical instrument company from Los Angeles County to Fullerton in the 1950s.

Arnold Beckman died at 104 in 2004.

This will be Beckman’s second stint as part of a larger company. In 1982, what’s now GlaxoSmithKline PLC bought the company for $1 billion.

SmithKline spun off Beckman seven years later.

In 1997, Beckman Instruments bought Miami’s Coulter Corp. to create Beckman Coulter. The company has yearly sales of $3.7 billion.

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