May 12, 2019 / 11:53 PM / a year ago

Colfax nears deal to sell air and gas unit to KPS -sources

May 12 (Reuters) - Welding and valves manufacturer Colfax Corp is nearing a deal to sell its air and gas handling division to private equity firm KPS Capital Partners for more than $1.8 billion, people familiar with the matter said on Sunday.

The sale would help Colfax pay down debt following its $3.15 billion acquisition in February of medical devices maker DJO Global Inc from buyout firm Blackstone Group LP. It underscores its decision to focus on high-margin and less cyclical businesses.

A deal could be announced as soon as this week, the sources said, cautioning it was still possible that negotiations end without a deal. The sources asked not to be identified because the negotiations were confidential.

Representatives for Colfax, which has a market capitalization of $3.2 billion, and KPS, which has assets under management of more than $5 billion, did not respond to requests for comment.

Colfax's air and gas handling unit provides heavy-duty centrifugal and axial cooling fans, rotary heat exchangers, gas compressors and ventilation control systems to the energy, mining, wastewater and general industrial industries under the Howden brand.

In addition to DJO, the sale would leave Colfax with its fabrication technology business, which develops and manufactures consumable products and equipment for use in the cutting and joining of steels and aluminum for the wind power, marine, pipelines and energy markets, largely under the ESAB brand.

Colfax bought DJO - its biggest-ever deal - to tap into growing demand for medical devices such as knee and hip implants from aging baby boomers.

At the time, it said it would explore options - including a possible sale - for its air and gas handling division, which in 2017 generated 40 percent of Colfax’s total revenue of $3.3 billion.

Colfax's founders – brothers Steven and Mitchell Rales – are familiar with the medical equipment industry, as they also launched Danaher Corp, a key player in medical devices, back in 1984. Colfax Chief Executive Matt Trerotola worked at Danaher before joining Colfax in 2015. (Reporting by Joshua Franklin in New York; Additional reporting by Harry Brumpton in New York; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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