Quorn attracts two potential buyers

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The Independent Online

Premier foods has confirmed it is in advanced talks with two parties over the sale of Quorn, its meat-free food range. A statement by the Hovis-to-Mr Kipling maker follows speculation that named Swiss food giant Nestlé as a frontrunner in the auction, which could value Quorn at more than £200m.

Premier has not identified the potential suitors but said it was in discussions with two parties after receiving initial approaches from multinational food groups and private-equity firms. It added that there was no guarantee that a sale of Quorn would take place.

However, Premier has already said it is open-minded about disposals as it looks to alleviate the £1.4bn debt pile built up following an acquisition spree that included Hovis owner RHM and Campbell's Soup in the UK and Ireland.

Quorn, bought as part of the Marlow Foods group for £172m in 2005, is said to be valued at between £200m to £250m. It is understood to be one of a raft of brands potentially up for sale as part of the debt reduction plan.Premier received an approach for the Mr Kipling cake range last year and there has been speculation its Hovis bread brand could go up for sale.

The first Quorn product was launched in 1985 using mycoprotein, a protein-based ingredient sourced from fungi.