New Brunswick, N.J.-based J&J put the unit, Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, on the block in January 2013 as part of a broader examination of whether that business would benefit from being on its own. At the time, Raritan, N.J.-based OCD generated about $2.07 billion in annual sales.
The company said Thursday it has until March 31 to accept the Carlyle offer. During that time Johnson & Johnson said it would consult with relevant work councils and trade unions, working toward potentially closing the deal by midyear.
Company officials said that the deal makes sense for both sides.
"Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics plays an important role in healthcare, and we're confident that it's well positioned to serve the interests of its patients, customers, and employees," J&J chairman and CEO Alex Gorsky said in a statement. "This transaction is a result of our disciplined approach to portfolio management in order to achieve the greatest value for Johnson & Johnson."
The unit is part of J&J's Medical Devices & Diagnostics operation, one of its three main business lines, along with its consumer health division and its pharmaceuticals segment. The MD&D unit brought in about $27.4 billion of J&J's $67.2 billion in revenue in 2012 and is the largest medical technology entity in the world.
That business took a sizable leap in 2011 when the company agreed to pay $21.3 billion for Swiss medical device maker Synthes in what is the largest deal in J&J's history.
A deal between J&J and Carlyle had been rumored since December, with the Washington, D.C.-based private equity firm reportedly lining up about $3.3 billion in financing for the purchase.
Carlyle has been building its healthcare portfolio in recent years, including joining with Hellman & Friedman in late 2011 to acquire clinical drug testing firm Pharmaceutical Product Development for $3.9 billion.