Some of Britain’s best-known food brands, including Hula Hoops and Twiglets, are moving towards being swallowed by a German buyer.
I understand that the privately-owned German food group Intersnack has appointed Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS - news) , the Wall Street investment bank, to advise it on a takeover bid for the snacks division of United Biscuits (UB).
Dusseldorf-based Intersnack, which owns brands in the UK such as Penn State pretzels, is among a group of potential buyers of the UB business, which also owns KP Nuts and Skips. With annual sales of 1.5bn euros, it describes itself as one of the largest manufacturers of snacking products in Europe (Chicago Options: ^REURUSD - news) .
Intersnack is likely to face competition from a limited number of food companies as well as some private equity groups.
UB is currently owned by two private equity firms, Blackstone (NYSE: BX - news) and PAI Partners. The business was split into two parts earlier this year in preparation for a sale following a failed auction of the whole company in 2010. UB's other division owns brands including Penguin (SES: E2:P13.SI - news) and Jaffa Cakes.
Goldman Sachs was one of the banks that advised the sellers during that auction but has now switched to work for a prospective bidder after Credit Suisse (NYSEArca: CSMA - news) was appointed by Blackstone and PAI to oversee the new sale process.
The Chinese food group Wahaha has also been named as a potential bidder for the UB snacks arm. If it was successful, it would continue an emerging trend for prominent British consumer brands to be sold to Chinese buyers. Weetabix was taken over earlier this year by Bright Food, one of the biggest food companies in the world's most populous country.
Goldman declined to comment, while Intersnack could not be reached.