United Biscuits split could accelerate sale: reports

By Ben Bouckley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Ub, United biscuits

United Biscuits split could accelerate sale: reports
Rumours have resurfaced suggesting that United Biscuits' (UB's) private equity owners may consider splitting-up the business to hasten a sale.

This could see UB’s savoury brands, including KP Peanuts, spun-off from its biscuits division and brands such as Digestives and Jaffa Cakes.

Talk of a potential split first emerged in the media in July last year.

It followed a decision by UB’s owners Blackstone and PAI Partners to appoint Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, to oversee a strategic review of the business ahead of a potential sale worth circa. £2bn.

But links with potential buyers China’s Bright Foods, US food giant Kraft and Canadian multinational Campbell Soup Company came to nothing.

Core snack positioning

Mintel global market analyst Marcia Mogelonsky told FoodManufacture.co.uk:”Campbell's may still be a viable buyer but its showings have been weak and it may feel poorly equipped to make a big buy right now.”

Mogelonsky said she believed US firm Diamond Foods was in a “much better position”​ to acquire UB. “But acquiring UB takes them a side-step away from their core snack positioning.”

But if talk of UB splitting its savoury operations from sweets was accurate then Diamond could be a viable buyer for the former, she added.

Mexican bakery conglomerate Bimbo had also bought similar types of business recently, and might consider picking-up the biscuit side of UB, Mogelonsky said.

She described this as “a good move if it [Bimbo] wants to contemplate global market expansion”.

Kraft interest?

Finally, Kraft Foods' potential split meant it could be back in the picture, she added:

“One thing to think about is the recent Kraft Foods split. The new global snacks company would be able to ease UB’s biscuits line into its business if it can avoid antitrust [issues]​."

UB’s operating profits rose 10.4% to £218.5m last year, although the company reduced UK staffing levels by around 5% to 6,169.

UB operates 11 factories in the UK and four factories in Continental Europe. It also has a group technical centre in High Wycombe and a HQ in Hayes, Middlesex.

The company was not available for comment.

Related topics: Ambient foods, Bakery

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