The owner of Jammy Dodgers is attempting to cook up an ambitious merger with the company behind McVities digestives and Jaffa Cakes, in a move that would create a new British snack champion.
Burton’s Biscuits is to take part in an international bid battle for United Biscuits, its bigger rival, after it was put up for sale by its private equity owners.
First round bids will be tabled tomorrow as part of a dual-track process that could see UB, which also owns Twiglets and Jacob’s Cream Crackers, float on the stock market instead of being bought.
The pending auction of Britain’s largest biscuit manufacturer has attracted interest from around the world. As well as Burton’s, those expected to lodge bids in some form are: Kelloggs and Mondelez, the American food giants; Ulker, the Turkish snack giant, and San Miguel, the Phillipines conglomerate.
Despite the strong interest from suitors, it is understood United Biscuits favours becoming a public company again, 15 years after it was first taken private. Blackstone and PAI Partners, the company’s private equity backers of United Biscuits, are in the advanced stages of exploring a float of the business.
Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan have been hired to lead the float and in the coming weeks at least two more banks are expected to be added to the advisory roster as so-called bookrunners to help prepare for a listing, which is expected to be formally announced towards the end of October.
Burton’s hopes of engineering a tie-up with its larger rival could be hampered by competition concerns. They are respectively the number two and one players in the UK biscuit market. However, an industry source described any competition hurdles as “surmountable”.
By Ben Marlow