(Bloomberg) -- Abcam Plc, the biotechnology supplier that’s exploring a sale, is attracting initial interest from US life sciences companies Danaher Corp. and Agilent Technologies Inc., people with knowledge of the matter said. 

Cambridge, England-based Abcam has separately approached companies including Germany’s Merck KGaA to gauge their interest, according to the people, who asked not to be identified discussing confidential information. Several large buyout firms have also been studying the business, the people said. 

The British company plans to ask for first-round bids in the coming weeks, the people said. Abcam’s American depositary shares jumped as much as 7.1% on Friday. They were up 5.3% at 12:05 p.m. in New York, giving the company a market value of $5.7 billion. Abcam had already gained more than 50% since the start of the year. 

Abcam said last week it’s starting a process to explore strategic options including a sale after receiving interest from multiple parties. Bloomberg News has reported it’s attracted some of the largest US suppliers of life-sciences tools. 

Deliberations are still at an early stage, and there’s no certainty which suitors will proceed with offers, according to the people. Spokespeople for Agilent and Merck declined to comment. Representatives for Abcam and Danaher couldn’t immediately comment. 

Abcam is sometimes referred to as the “Amazon of antibodies.” It runs an online store selling a variety of protein research tools to life scientists, ranging from reagents and cellular assays to enzymes and imaging products. 

The company has been locked in a battle with founder Jonathan Milner, who called an extraordinary general meeting to replace some of its board members and get himself elected executive chairman. Milner said this week he’s pausing the proxy fight after the company decided to study strategic alternatives. 

--With assistance from Manuel Baigorri, Naomi Kresge and Nacha Cattan.

(Updates with share move in third paragraph.)

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