(Reuters) — U.S. private equity firm KKR (KKR.N) and Dubai-based Fajr Capital have teamed up as one of four bidders that have been shortlisted to buy a majority stake in Abu Dhabi-based National Food Products Company (NFPC), sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
NFPC, one of the largest food and dairy manufacturers in the United Arab Emirates, whose brands include Milco, Lacnor and Oasis bottled water, appointed Emirates Investment Bank in October to arrange the sale, aimed at raising up to $1.5 billion.
Saudi Arabia’s Almarai 2280.SE, an international industrial firm, and an international financial firm are the three other bidders, with the four invited to conduct their due diligence audits of the business ahead of making a formal bid by June 9, the sources said.
NFPC and Fajr Capital declined to comment. KKR did not immediately respond to a request to comment.
NFPC, which also has a joint venture with Danish dairy giant Arla Foods [ARLAF.UL], was founded by Lebanese-born
businessman Fady Antonios and the local Bin Hamoodah group.
Antonios, currently president and chief executive of NFPC, is looking to raise funds for the company’s expansion as well as reducing his own stake in preparation for his eventual retirement, sources familiar with the matter have said.
NFPC has already started work on the first phase of a $400 million development of a production complex in Abu Dhabi’s Khalifa Industrial Zone.
Almarai, the Gulf’s largest dairy company, said on April 17 it was interested in buying a controlling stake in NFPC and had already been invited to conduct due diligence.
In December, Reuters reported that Almarai was one of several companies to have shown an interest in NFPC, citing sources.
KKR and Fajr Capital teamed up together in June to bid for fashion retailer Azadea Group. The deal was stalled by September due to difficulties because of agreements over valuations.
($1 = 3.6726 UAE dirham)