Nov 16 (Reuters) - Private equity firm KKR & Co LP said on Monday it has agreed to invest $35 million in Australian handheld ultrasound device maker Signostics Ltd, in a deal that underscores the potential of portable diagnostic technology.
Signostics' palm-sized ultrasound devices are smaller, cheaper and more portable than traditional ultrasound systems, allowing their use in more diagnostic settings and making the company part of a rapidly growing industry, according to KKR.
The investment will give Signostics the long-term funding it needs to fund research and development, Kevin Goodwin, the chief executive officer of Signostics, said in a statement on Monday. KKR will fund the investment with its own capital, the statement added.
Founded in 2005 in Adelaide, Australia, privately held Signostics makes handheld bladder scanners and ultrasound devices that can be used on humans and animals. It aspires to take on industry giants such as General Electric Co.
Since 1995, KKR has invested more than $9 billion of equity capital in health care companies, including diabetes device maker Panasonic Healthcare Co and hospital operator HCA Holdings Inc.
Its most recent growth investments in the sector, involving just equity investments rather than debt-fueled leveraged buyouts, include surgical adhesives and sealants developer Cohera Medical and drug company Coherus Biosciences.
Best known for its leveraged buyouts, New York-based KKR was founded in 1976 by Henry Kravis, George Roberts and Jerome Kohlberg, and managed a total $98.7 billion as of the end of September. It has been funding growth equity investments from its own balance sheet until its raises a dedicated fund. (Reporting by Gui Qing Koh in New York; Editing by Christian Plumb)