Quorn sale narrows to two bidders

Quorn sale narrows to two bidders

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Hovis firm Premier Foods said it was in advanced talks with two parties over the sale of Quorn

Hovis-to-Mr Kipling firm Premier Foods has said it was in advanced talks with two parties over the sale of its meat-free food range Quorn.

The statement follows speculation that named Swiss consumer giant Nestle as a frontrunner in the auction, which could value Quorn at more than £200 million.

Premier has not identified the potential suitors but confirmed it was in advanced talks with two parties after receiving initial approaches from multi-national food groups and private equity firms. It said there was no guarantee that a sale of its meat-free business will take place.

However, Premier has already said it is open minded about disposals as it looks to alleviate the £1.4 billion debt pile built up following an acquisition spree that included Hovis owner RHM and Campbell’s Soup in UK and Ireland.

Quorn, purchased for £172 million from Marlow Foods in 2005, is said to be valued at between £200 million to £250 million. It is understood to be one of a raft of brands potentially up for sale as part of the debt reduction plan.

Premier received an approach for the Mr Kipling cake business last year and there has been speculation its Hovis bread brand could go up for sale.

The first Quorn product was launched in 1985 using a specially developed protein-based ingredient called mycoprotein, and it has since become a popular meat substitute for vegetarians.

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