Smiths hopes the business, which participated in the conception of the world’s first test-tube baby, will fetch more than £2bn, said the FT, citing people familiar with the talks.
One of the sources said the price has not been agreed and Smiths has not taken a firm decision to sell the business.
Two years ago Apax made a £2.45bn offer for the unit, which Smiths said at that time was not in shareholders’ interests as it did not reflect its value.
US-based healthcare group CareFusion is believed to be one of the potential suitors.
Apax has recently been reported to be among potential bidders for venture capital-backed Octo Telematics, which could be sold for £600m.
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