United Biscuits, the UK’s leading snack maker, is to go up for sale, according to a report by Sky News. It said that that the two private equity firms that own the company were looking to attract offers of £2bn and above. "I’m told that a number of banks, including Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, are competing for the mandate to handle the sale process, which will begin in the autumn and conclude early next year," said Sky’s City editor Mark Kleinman.
The board of United Biscuits are said to have met this week to approve a sale with its the owners Blackstone and PAI Partners prepared to sell the company’s snacks division and its biscuits unit to different buyers if required. The sale is likely to attract interest both from branded food manufacturers and private equity groups.
Despite the recession, United Biscuits has increased its profit since the maker of McVitie’s biscuits, Hula Hoops and Jacob’s crackers was acquired by the private equity groups for £1.6bn in October 2006. The company reported a 13.7% rise in EBITDA last year to £223.4m, on revenues up 5% at £1.26bn
News of the possible sale comes amid a pick-up in deal making involving food companies and buyout firms. Earlier this week Unilever sold its Italian frozen-foods unit Findus to Birds Eye Iglo, which is owned by Permira. Yoplait yoghurts in France and Sara Lee’s US bread business, are also set to change hands as their owners capitalise on strong demand for defensive assets.
NamNews - Thursday 22nd July 2010