Carlyle Group In Hunt for Pure Foods

HONG KONG/MANILA (Reuters) – Private equity firms Carlyle Group and CVC are among the bidders in the sale of Philippine conglomerate San Miguel Corp’s (SMC.PS) Pure Foods (PF.PS) unit, sources familiar with the situation told Reuters.

Domestic food maker Universal Robina Corp (URC.PS) is also bidding, according to the sources, who put the total value of Pure Foods at around $2 billion.

The 120-year-old conglomerate is diversifying away from food and drink operations into power, mining, telecommunications and infrastructure.

JP Morgan (JPM.N), which is running the auction, declined to comment.

San Miguel announced in July 2009 it planned to sell a 49 percent stake in Pure Foods but the process has proved slow and bankers advising potential buyers said Southeast Asia’s largest food and drinks firm could end up selling the entire company.

“For private equity buyers it is easy to get funding for a controlling stake,” said one banker advising a prospective buyer said.

Should San Miguel decide to sell out completely, the value of the deal could go up to $2 billion, the sources said.

Sources declined to be named as the discussions were confidential.

Universal Robina, a unit of JG Summit Hodings Inc (JGS.PS) is a Philippine-based food company. Robina President Lance Gokongwei declined to comment. San Miguel also declined to comment.

Carlyle and CVC Capital Partners were not available for immediate comment.

Pure Foods posted a first-quarter revenue of 18.7 billion pesos ($403.4 million).

San Miguel’s president Ramon Ang has been widely quoted in Philippine media as saying that Pure Foods has an enterprise value of $1.8 billion. ($1=46.35 Philippine pesos)

By Denny Thomas and Rosemarie Franciso
(Editing by Greg Mahlich)