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(Updates with closing shares in fourth paragraph.)

Aug. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Nobel Biocare Holding AG, the Swiss maker of dental implants that’s exploring a sale, has attracted interest from potential buyers including EQT Partners AB and Danaher Corp., said people with knowledge of the matter.

Nobel Biocare was initially approached by Swedish buyout firm EQT with an offer of about 17 Swiss francs a share, which would have valued the company at about 2.1 billion francs ($2.3 billion) said the people, who asked not to be identified because talks are private. The offer prompted the company and its adviser Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to invite other bids as it seeks a higher price, the people said.

Other companies such as York, Pennsylvania-based rival Dentsply International Inc. and buyout firms are also expected to look at Nobel Biocare, the people said. Acquiring Nobel Biocare would allow some buyers to relocate their domicile to Switzerland to benefit from lower rates -- a so-called tax inversion.

EQT’s offer of 17 francs was a 23 percent premium to Nobel Biocare’s closing share price on July 28, the day before the firm confirmed a report that it was holding talks about a possible sale. Bidders were not named. The shares gained 2.2 percent to 16.25 francs in Swiss trading today. The stock has gained 19 percent this year, valuing the company at about 2 billion francs.

Representatives for Nobel Biocare, EQT, Danaher and Dentsply declined to comment.

The talks are at an early stage and may not result in a transaction, Nobel said on July 29, without identifying any bidders. Potential buyers that are looking at the asset may decide against a bid, the people familiar said.

Danaher, a medical-device maker, generates about 11 percent of its $19.1 billion in annual revenue from its dental segment, data compiled by Bloomberg show. EQT has conducted several health-care deals in the past few years. The Stockholm-based investment firm bought bandages-supplier BSN Medical in 2012 and also agreed to exit Swedish kidney-dialysis competitor Gambro AB that year.

Potential buyers include Swiss rival Straumann Holding AG, Sirona Dental Systems Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic Inc., Zimmer Holdings Inc., Henry Schein Inc., and 3M Co., according to a note on July 30 from Lisa Bedell Clive, a London-based analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Nobel Biocare could sell for as much as 18 francs a share, she said in the note.

--With assistance from Caroline Chen in New York, Allison Connolly and Kiel Porter in London and Albertina Torsoli in Geneva.

To contact the reporters on this story: Aaron Kirchfeld in London at akirchfeld@bloomberg.net; David Welch in New York at dwelch12@bloomberg.net; Manuel Baigorri in London at mbaigorri@bloomberg.net To contact the editors responsible for this story: Mohammed Hadi at mhadi1@bloomberg.net Elizabeth Fournier, David Risser

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