Biscuit firm in talks over €2.4bn takeover
A Chinese food giant is in talks about a €2.4bn takeover for Jaffa Cake business United Biscuits, it was reported today.
Shanghai-based Bright Food is understood to be in discussions with the British group, also behind McVitie's biscuits and Twiglets, which has generated interest from a number of other food firms, including US Campbell Soup Company, the Sunday Times said.
A foreign bid for the group is not expected to generate the same controversy as Kraft's move for Cadbury, as United is already owned by two overseas businesses - US investment firm Blackstone and French buyout specialist PAI Partners.
They previously considered listing the business before deciding to formally put it up for sale last month. The groups have hired investment banks Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan to advise them on the move.
United, based in Hayes, Middlesex, which also produces Jacob's and Penguin ranges, is Britain's biggest biscuit producer, employing 7,000 staff and generating profits of €262m last year.
Bright Food was formed four years ago and generates annual profits of about €235m on sales of €5bn and has around 3,300 shops in China.
Last month it emerged The Campbell Soup Company had hired Centerview Partners, which was one of a number of firms advising Kraft on its takeover of Cadbury, to advise it on a bid for United.
But it was reported that Campbell Soup was interested only in the company's biscuit operations - 75pc of the business - and not its snack arm.
United Biscuits currently generates annual sales of €1.5bn, although it has €1.4bn of debt.