Chinese food group Bright Food has entered into exclusive talks to buy snack company United Biscuits from its private equity owners, according to the Financial Times.
The company, which is owned by Blacksatone and PAI Partners, could be valued at £2.5bn (2.9bn) including debt in the event of a sale.
Bright Food is one of China’s biggest food groups, with an annual turnover of £4bn (€4.7bn) and brand that include Big White Rabbit candy and Shikumen yellow wine.
United Biscuits, which was acquired by the private equity duo in 2006 for £1.6bn (€1.8bn), produces such well-known snack brands as Jaffa Cakes, Hula Hoops and Hob Nobs.
The firms called in JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs to run an auction for for the company in July.
Founded in 1948, the UK company employs 7,000 people across 14 locations in the UK, increased its revenues by 5.1 per cent last year to £1.26bn (€1.48bn), but still holds net debt of £1.2bn (€1.4bn). An acquisition by Bright Foods could see United Biscuit’s brands rolled out into the Chinese market.
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