Private Equity Buyout Looms For Medical Product Maker Medline

Medical product maker Medline, which has grown rapidly making personal protective equipment during the pandemic, could be close to a private equity buyout of the family-owned company.

Several financial news outlets Saturday were reporting that a buyout of about $30 billion is being put together by a consortium that includes, Blackstone Group, Hellman & Friedman and Carlyle Group Inc. These reports say the deal with the billionaire Mills family could be one of the biggest leveraged buyouts in U.S. history.

Medline grabbed headlines earlier this spring that the privately held, family-owned company was considering a leveraged buyout valuing the company at $30 billion. Neither Medline nor Mills family members, however, have confirmed such talks and the company had no comment when reached Saturday afternoon.

But sources close to Medline say family shareholders are interested in cashing out and the company has been looking for a way to pay them while keeping certain members of the Mills family in charge at the company, which has been run by the family for more than a century.

Charlie Mills is the chief executive officer of the company and his cousin, Andy, is president. Andy’s brother-in-law, Jim Abrams, is Medline chief operating officer.

Under their leadership, Medline has grown rapidly and the company has invested $1.5 billion in capital in the last three years into its distribution centers, warehouses and other infrastructure. Medline, based in the northern suburbs of Chicago, has some 27,000 employees around the world and has been acquisitive lately, adding to its portfolio of personal protective equipment and related medical supplies used in hospitals and health facilities around the world.

Medline’s roots go back to 1910 when A.L. Mills “moved from a small town in Arkansas to Chicago,” a 2020 Forbes profile of the family of billionaires said.

“The family invented the first surgeon’s gown with 360-degree coverage and were among the first to commercialize blue and green fabrics in the operating room that cut down on glare from operating room lights,” the March 2020 Forbes story said. “It also was the first to introduce the now ubiquitous pink and blue striped blankets for newborns.”

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