Campbell Soup Co. asked a U.S. investment bank to look at breaking up United Biscuits, Britain's biggest snack-maker, with revenues of £1.3bn last year, and maker of McVitie's digestives, as Campbell prepares to launch a bid for United's biscuit-making division, reports the Guardian. Brands include Penguin chocolate bars, Jaffa Cakes and the McVitie's Digestives, Rich Tea and HobNobs biscuits.
Skinny is Campbell plans a £1.5bn bid for United's biscuit-making arm, and reportedly engaged Centerview Partners, a U.S. boutique investment bank, for advice. United also produces McCoy's crisps, Hula Hoops, KP Nuts and Twiglets, but Campbell is thought to be mainly interested in the biscuit making arm.
Campbell's move could help to spur interest in United Biscuits, whose private equity owners are thought to be keen to sell. Blackstone and PAI Partners bought United Biscuits in 2006 for £1.6bn in a leveraged deal which left the company carrying £1.2bn of debt on its balance sheet, and began discussions with banking advisers last month. Analysts predict a sale price of about £2bn. Other potential buyers of United include three other U.S. companies - Kraft Foods, Pepsico and Kellogg Co.
Campbell raised $400 million (£258m) at the end of June through its biggest sale of debt since 2002, sparking predictions the company was planning an acquisition spree. At the time, spokesman Anthony Sanzio said Campbell was keen to "strengthen our business through outside partnerships and acquisitions."