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By Pamela Barbaglia, Arno Schuetze and Kane Wu
LONDON (Reuters) - Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC has teamed up with Chinese asset manager CDH Investments to submit a joint offer for the $3.6 billion home appliance business of Philips, two sources told Reuters.
The duo is facing competition from Asia-focused private equity firm Hillhouse Capital and a consortium of Citic Capital, Sequoia and TCL Capital, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Philips has put pressure on the bidders to finalise their binding offers by the end of March and raised the prospect of ditching the sale and pursuing an alternative listing of the business, which produces coffee machines, vacuum cleaners and air fryers.
Philips declined to comment while none of the bidders were immediately available out of business hours.
The sale is a central part of Philips' transformation into a health technology business focused entirely on hospital equipment and personal health products.
Once a sprawling conglomerate, the Amsterdam-based company has narrowed its focus in recent years, spinning off the lighting and consumer electronics divisions for which it was previously best known.
Philips' home appliance unit is valued at about 3 billion euros ($3.64 billion) and appeals to Asian bidders since the bulk of its manufacturing operations takes place in China, the sources said.
The Dutch technology giant kicked off the auction process last year and although it wants to wrap it up by the end of the first quarter, the sources said some of the bidders may face delays in completing due diligence and securing financing.
CDH is, however, determined to snap up the unit and has teamed up with GIC which already owns stakes in Western companies including British insurer Rothesay Life and Italian cosmetics firm Intercos, one of the sources said.
In the event of delays Philips will gauge appetite for an initial public offering (IPO) of the business and has hired Lazard to start the preparation work for a possible float on an Asian exchange, a third source said.
"The IPO project remains at an early stage. It will gain traction if Chinese bidders can't get their act together," he said.
(Reporting By Pamela Barbaglia, Arno Schuetze and Kane Wu, additional reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)