Canadian pharmaceutical company Valeant is close to a deal to acquire US eye health company Bausch & Lomb for about $9 billion, a person familiar with the matter said Friday.
A deal could come as soon as next week, the person said.
Unless the deal falls apart, the transaction will replace a plan launched in March for Bausch & Lomb to undertake an initial public offering.
The takeover talks were first reported Friday by The Wall Street Journal.
Contacted by AFP, spokespeople for Valeant and Bausch & Lomb declined to comment on the potential deal.
Founded in 1853, privately held Bausch & Lomb, based in Rochester, New York, is best known for its contact lenses and for products related to maintaining contact lenses, such as PureVision, Optima and ReNu.
The company also manufactures eye drops for treating eye dryness, glaucoma or allergies and materials used in eye surgery.
According to recent press accounts, Bausch & Lomb's principal shareholder, private-equity firm Warburg Pincus -- which holds about 87 percent of the business -- has been seeking a buyer for Bausch & Lomb. But potential suitors were put off by Warburg's reported asking price of about $10 billion.
Warburg took Bausch & Lomb private when it bought the company in 2007 for $4.5 billion, including debt.
Besides Warburg, another major stakeholder is investment firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe, which owns about 11 percent of the eyecare company.
A purchase of Bausch & Lomb by Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. would follow a series of some 15 recent acquisitions by the Canadian company over the last year totaling $3.5 billion.
But Bausch & Lomb would be a far bigger target, enabling the Canadian firm to double its revenues in one fell swoop.
The US company, which employs 11,200 worldwide, last year reported revenues of around $3 billion, according to a filing with US securities regulators. Valeant reported revenues of $3.3 billion and had about 7,000 employees at the end of 2012.
Both companies had losses for 2012, with Bausch & Lomb reporting a loss of $68.3 million and Valeant a loss of $116 million.
The potential Bausch & Lomb deal would come on the heels of Valeant's reportedly unsuccessful bid to buy US pharmaceutical company Actavis for more than $13 billion.
Valeant shares closed Friday at $84.47 in New York, up 13.1 percent.