SAO PAULO, July 7 (Reuters) - Brazilian investment firm Tarpon Investimentos SA hired Morgan Stanley & Co to explore a sale of Cremer SA, the nation's largest supplier of healthcare products, three sources with knowledge of the situation said on Tuesday.
Tarpon, which last year took control of Blumenau, Brazil-based Cremer in a tender offer, launched a formal sale process aimed especially at foreign bidders, said the sources, who requested anonymity since the matter is private. Tarpon owns 96 percent of Cremer.
The New York-based bank had already offered the company to a group of investment funds and possible strategic buyers such as UK-based Smith & Nephew Plc, two of the sources noted. Tarpon put Cremer on the block to focus on larger investments such as poultry producer BRF SA and education company Abril Educação SA, the sources added.
They said São Paulo-based Tarpon wants at least 600 million reais ($190 million) for Cremer, which was founded in 1935 and sells textile and adhesive clinical products across Brazil.
A year ago, Tarpon agreed to buy out minority shareholders in a tender offer worth about $60 million. Before the buyout, Cremer had struggled with sagging dental and hospital product sales, and higher costs brought on by a weakening currency.
Sales rose 16 percent last year to a record 662.5 million reais, while profit totaled 32 million reais.
Media representatives for Tarpon, Morgan Stanley and London-based Smith & Nephew declined to comment. Cremer did not have an immediate comment. ($1 = 3.1816 Brazilian reais) (Editing by Steve Orlofsky)