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Bidders Circle Sara Lee

Private equity firms Trilantic Capital Partners and Sagard are seen as likely to post final offers for Sara Lee Corp’s French baked goods unit, Reuters reports.

(Reuters) – Sara Lee Corp’s auction for its French baked goods unit has moved into the home stretch with private equity firms Trilantic Capital Partners and Sagard seen likely to post final offers, sources familiar with the situation said on Friday.

Sara Lee is selling the unit, which various sources valued at between 100 and 150 million euros ($212 million), as part of a broader effort to divest its international bakery units. They include its fresh bakery business in Spain and Portugal, acquired by Mexico’s Grupo Bimbo earlier this month.

Trilantic, formed by the former principals of Lehman Brothers Merchant Banking, is one of the finalists in the auction along with Franco-Canadian private equity firm Sagard, the sources familiar said.

“Final offers should be submitted soon,” one source said, adding that a trade buyer could possibly put in a last minute offer as well.

Sara Lee is being advised on the deal by Rabobank, which is known for its strong expertise in French food and agriculture related deals, said another source familiar, who described the deal as “in its final leg.”

The deal would be one of only a smattering of recent European auctions involving private equity bidders to get done as leveraged loan and high yield bond markets remain weak.

Rabobank declined to comment. Officials from Trilantic’s U.K. unit could not immediately be reached for comment. Sagard declined to comment.

Sara Lee, which is splitting into two companies, one focused on North American meat brands and the other on international coffee and tea brands, confirmed that the unit, called Eurodough, is up for sale, but declined to elaborate.

“We don’t have any comments on the rumors of a specific buyer or sales price,” Sara Lee spokesman Mike Cummins said.

Eurodough, which once belonged to Anheuser Busch and was acquired by Sara Lee in 2001, has annual earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of about 15 million euros, two sources said.

With three different French factories, the unit is best known for refrigerated dough sold under the Croustipate brand that can be used to make pizza, croissants and cakes.