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UK's Smiths to sell medical division to ICU for $2.4 billion, snubs TA

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By Yadarisa Shabong

(Reuters) -British industrial technology group Smiths has agreed to sell its medical division to U.S.-based ICU Medical for $2.4 billion, it said on Wednesday, scrapping an earlier $2 billion deal with private equity firm TA Associates.

Shares in London-listed Smiths rose 4% in early trade as another bidding war for a British company could be brewing, with Smiths Medical becoming the latest UK target to draw bids from both a private equity buyer and a strategic one.

Smiths struck a deal with Boston-based TA Associates in early August to sell the division, which makes catheters and other medical devices, but on Wednesday withdrew its backing for the TA bid in favour of the "superior" offer from ICU Medical.

The deal with the private equity firm in August had sent shares in Smiths' tumbling as the value came in below market expectations.

TA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

California-based medical device maker ICU Medical said the addition of Smiths Medical syringes, ambulatory infusion devices and other products would help create a leading infusion therapy company.

"The combination of these two businesses makes sense for the medical device marketplace and fits well with ICU Medical's existing business," ICU Medical Chief Executive Vivek Jain said.

The deal with ICU is expected to close in the first half of next year, Smiths said, subject to shareholder and regulatory approval.

Smiths expects initial net proceeds of $1.85 billion from the sale to ICU, about $50 million more than under the TA deal, it said. The London-based company continues to propose a shareholder return of 55% of the proceeds via a share buyback.

In another instance of a takeover battle for a British medical company, strategic buyer Philip Morris last month outbid private equity firm Carlyle in the takeover of asthma drugmaker Vectura.

(Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Jan Harvey)

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