United Biscuits private equity owners mull sale

Another long-standing British food company may be about to go under the hammer, as the private equity owners of United Biscuits put out feelers to investment banks over a sale that could reach £2bn.

Blackstone and PAI Partners are trawling for advisers on the sale of the group which owns a host of favourite brands including McVitie's, Hula Hoops and KP Nuts.

No decision has been made, although Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan are understood to be in the running. The sale process could start as soon as the autumn and conclude early next year.

The two private equity giants are also believed to be considering selling the snacks and biscuits businesses separately if such deals make more sense. Alternatively, United Biscuits could be listed on the Stock Exchange if offers are not at a high enough price.

United Biscuits was listed on the FTSE 100 before it was bought out by the US firm Blackstone and PAI Partners of France, for £1.6bn, in 2006. The pair of private equity firms have been expected to find an exit by listing the company either this year or next for some time. And United Biscuits' listed rival Premier Foods has also been tipped as a possible buyer for the group in the past.

The group started life in 1948 with the merger of two Scottish family businesses, McVitie & Price and MacFarlane Lang. Six decades later, it boasts 11 factories across the UK and another four in Europe, producing a wide array of food products including Twiglets, The Real McCoy's crisps, and Jacob's Cream Crackers.

United Biscuits saw revenue growth of 5 per cent to £1.26bn and earnings shoot up by 13.7 per cent to £223m in 2009.

Some commentators tip Kraft as a possible bidder, fresh from its acquisition of Cadbury earlier in the year. But the disappearance of another slew of British food brands to the American group's ownership could re-ignite the controversy over the Cadbury takeover.

Blackstone, PAI Partners and United Biscuits all declined to comment on the situation yesterday.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Content Writer - Global Financial Services

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Consultant - Financial Services - OTE £65,000

£15000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Loan Underwriter

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory