One of Germany's biggest food companies is poised to snatch control of household name British food brands including Hula Hoops and KP Nuts after a £400m-plus raid on their owner.
I understand that Intersnack, which has been in talks with United Biscuits’ owners for several months, is close to seeing off rivals in the auction of the British food producer’s snacks division.
If successfully completed, a deal would make Intersnack one of the most prominent food companies in Britain.
UB's snacks arm owns the McCoy’s, Mini Cheddars, Skips and Phileas Fogg brands, some of which have been staples in British consumers' kitchens for decades.
People close to the talks cautioned tonight that Intersnack and UB had yet to reach a formal deal and that the negotiations could still fall through.
The German group has been vying with a number of private equity firms to win control of KP Snacks.
Capvest, a specialist investor in the consumer goods sector, also tabled an offer for the UB division but is thought to have been outbid. Pamplona Capital, another private equity firm, and Calbee, a Japanese food company, are not thought to have submitted formal bids.
UB is owned by Blackstone (NYSE: BX - news) and PAI Partners, two private equity firms. They will continue to own the group's biscuits division, which is home to brands including Penguin (SES: E2:P13.SI - news) , McVitie’s Jaffa Cakes and Go Ahead, with a sale of that unit possible next year.
Credit Suisse (NYSEArca: CSMA - news) is advising Blackstone and PAI, while Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS - news) is advising Intersnack. The current owners tried to sell UB in its entirety two years ago but failed to secure a deal following talks with Bright Food, a Chinese company.
Bright Food subsequently acquired Weetabix, the breakfast cereal producer, a takeover that ranked among the most significant so far of a western brand by a Chinese counterpart.
Blackstone and PAI declined to comment.