Bausch Health to Explore Potential Sale of Its Eye-Care Unit

Bausch Health Cos. is exploring a potential sale of its eye-care business, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The unit, which operates under the Bausch + Lomb brand and includes eye-health products such as contact lenses and surgical devices, has attracted interest from private equity bidders as well as strategic buyers, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private information.

Bausch Health said in August it would spin off its eye-care unit and operate it as an independent, publicly traded company. As a standalone company, Bausch + Lomb could be valued at $20 billion to $30 billion, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

The company hasn’t made a final decision on a sale and could still opt to spin off or keep the business, the people said. Bausch Health could also weigh a sale of part of the business instead of a full divestiture, the people said.

A representative for Bausch Health declined to comment.

Formerly known as Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Bausch Health became infamous on Wall Street for raising prices on drugs, a practice that drew scrutiny of its business practices.

Valeant acquired Bausch & Lomb Holdings Inc. in 2013 in an $8.7 billion deal, at the time its biggest acquisition ever.

Bausch Health has been divesting non-core assets and paying down debt to improve its balance sheet and streamline its offerings. In March, it said it was selling Amoun Pharmaceutical Co., its Egyptian drug unit, to Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund ADQ for $740 million.

Shares of Bausch Health rose as much as 10% on Wednesday. They were up 5.9% to $33.08 at 3:44 p.m. in New York trading, giving the company a market value of about $11.8 billion.

Bausch Health has drawn attention from activist investors seeking changes. In February, Carl Icahn disclosed a new stake and said he believed the company was undervalued. A few weeks later, Bausch Health and Icahn reached an agreement that added two new directors to the board.

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