By Arno Schuetze and Ludwig Burger
FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German healthcare supplier Fresenius <FREG.DE> and British engineering company Smiths Group <SMIN.L> have emerged as the final bidders for Pfizer's <PFE.N> infusion pumps business in a possible deal worth close to $1.5 billion, people familiar with the matter said.
Pfizer is hiving off the business, which it acquired as part of the $16 billion takeover of Hospira last September, to focus on drugs.
Infusion pumps provide exact dosages of intravenous drugs, sometimes by millilitres per hour, and are used in medical areas such as intensive care, emergency care or neonatal care.
Goldman Sachs is advising Pfizer on the divestment, the sources said.
Pfizer, Goldman and Fresenius declined to comment while officials at Smiths were not immediately available for comment.
Bloomberg, which reported earlier this year that the unit was for sale, said at the time that the field of bidders also included private equity firm Pamplona Capital Management.
For Fresenius, whose main market for its infusion pumps is Europe, a deal would offer a broader geographic reach, as the unit for sale has a strong foothold in North America.
The German healthcare group, whose businesses range from providing kidney dialysis and tube feeding equipment to running hospitals, has a history of large takeovers.
It acquired injectable generic drugs maker APP for $3.7 billion in 2008, and more recently 3 billion euros worth of hospitals from Rhoen Klinikum <RHKG.DE> and blood collection equipment company Fenwal for more than $1 billion.
"(Asset) prices have come down but we're very selective in what is a good deal and what isn't," chief executive Ulf Schneider said last month.
Smiths Group - a diversified supplier of hospital equipment, industrial services and sensors to measure soot in diesel exhaust or to detect explosives in baggage - has said it would remain on the lookout for deals after buying Safran's <SAF.PA> U.S.-based Morpho Detection business for $710 million.
(Editing by Harro ten Wolde and Adrian Croft)