Blackstone, PAI Consider United Biscuits Sale

LONDON (Reuters) – Private equity firms Blackstone Group LP (BX.N) and PAI Partners are considering selling Britain’s United Biscuits for more than 2 billion pounds ($3.06 billion), a person familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

The duo have spoken to banks but have yet to pick advisers for a possible sale, which would probably begin after the European summer holidays and wrap up early in 2011, the person added.

Blackstone and its French partner bought the maker of McVitie’s biscuits and Jacob’s cream crackers for 1.6 billion pounds in late 2006. Listed rival Premier Foods Plc (PFD.L) had also considered bidding for United, which is based in Hayes, near London.

United, Britain’s biggest snack-maker, reported a 13.7 percent rise in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) last year to 223.4 million pounds, on revenues up 5 percent at 1.26 billion.

JPMorgan advised the duo on the 2006 purchase, while Goldman Sachs advised United Biscuits.

Blackstone and PAI declined to comment.

News of the possible sale comes amid a pick-up in dealmaking involving food companies and buyout firms. Earlier this week Unilever sold its Italian frozen-foods unit Findus to Birds Eye Iglo, which is owned by Permira [PERM.UL]. 

 (Reporting by Quentin Webb; additional reporting by Victoria Howley, editing by Will Waterman) ($1=.6534 Pound)