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Private equity group including Blackstone nears deal to buy Medline for over $30 billion

A group of private-equity firms including Blackstone Group Inc

is nearing a deal to acquire Medline Industries Inc. that would value the medical-supply giant at more than $30 billion, in one of the largest leveraged buyouts since the financial crisis, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

The Blackstone consortium includes Carlyle Group Inc

 and Hellman & Friedman LLC. They beat out a rival bid from the private-equity arm of Canadian investing giant Brookfield Asset Management Inc

Including debt, the transaction would be valued at about $34 billion, and north of $30 billion excluding borrowings. That could make it the largest healthcare LBO ever.

Based in Northfield, Ill., family-owned Medline is a little-known but a major player in the field of medical equipment. It manufactures and distributes equipment and supplies used in hospitals, surgery centers, acute-care and other medical facilities in over 125 countries. It has some $17.5 billion in annual sales, according to its website.

Brothers James and Jon Mills founded the company in 1966  in 1966, taking it public in 1972. The brothers bought back the shares five years later. James’s son Charlie has been Medline’s CEO since 1997.

The family will remain the single largest shareholder in the company after the buyout and the management team will remain in place, some of the people said.

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