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Actuant, Columbus McKinnon vie for lifting company Crosby -sources

By Soyoung Kim, Greg Roumeliotis and Michael Erman

Oct 2 (Reuters) - Industrial products makers Actuant Corp and Columbus McKinnon Corp are among the bidders for Crosby Group LLC, a lifting equipment company that is valued at around $1 billion, several people familiar with the matter said this week.

Crosby, a unit of British engineering firm Melrose Industries Plc, has also attracted private equity offers, including from KKR & Co LP, Warburg Pincus LLC, TPG Capital LP and CCMP Capital LP, the people said.

The management of Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Crosby has already met with potential buyers and the company will soon seek final bids, the people added, asking not to be identified because details of the sale process are confidential.

"Actuant has a robust mergers and acquisitions pipeline and, while I cannot comment on specific deals, our funnel has, and will continue to contain, a combination of potential tuck-in and larger transactions," Actuant spokeswoman Karen Bauer said in a response to a request for comment.

Representatives for Melrose Industries, Columbus McKinnon and TPG did not reply to requests for comment while KKR, Warburg Pincus and CCMP declined to comment. Melrose has previously said it expects to sell Crosby by the end of 2013.

Crosby, which makes lifting fittings and blocks for the oil and gas, construction and mining sectors, is working with JPMorgan Chase on the sale, people familiar with the matter said in July.

In June, Melrose agreed to sell its generators and electric motors unit Marelli Motors to another private equity firm, Carlyle Group LP, for 212 million euros ($287 million).

Melrose itself follows a private equity-type model of investing in companies, improving their performance and then selling them. It acquired Crosby in 2008 as part of its 1 billion pounds ($1.6 billion) takeover of engineering conglomerate FKI Plc.

In August, Melrose said first-half revenue more than doubled thanks to its $2.3 billion acquisition of Elster Group SE, which makes meters for measuring gas, water and electricity consumption.