A consortium of private equity groups, including Blackstone and Carlyle, has reached a deal to buy medical supply group Medline for about $34bn, including debt, in what is the largest buyout of the year.

The transaction, announced by Medline on Saturday, is the largest buyout involving a club of private equity investors since the 2007 financial crisis. It ranks as one of the largest-ever private equity deals, behind the $44bn buyout of US energy group TXU Corporation in 2007.

Blackstone, which has also partnered with Hellman & Friedman on the deal, beat other consortiums of buyout groups, including one involving Bain Capital and CVC and another one led by Brookfield.

Medline, founded in 1966 by Jim and John Mills, is one of the largest manufacturers of medical supplies. The family-owned business is now run by Charles Mills.

Medline said that after the transaction it would continue to be led by the Mills family, which would remain its largest shareholder.

In 2018 Blackstone agreed its largest deal since the financial crisis by pulling together $17.3bn to take a controlling stake in the financial terminals and data business of Thomson Reuters. Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Singapore state fund GIC helped finance the deal.

Club deals were popular in the years that preceded the financial crisis as they allowed private equity groups to be exposed to more and larger transactions. They came to an abrupt end after the crisis as credit dried up but have recently gained traction.



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