Lazard in Talks for Unibic Partners

Buyout shop Lazard is looking to sell a stake in Australian biscuit maker Unibic to an Asian partner, and is in talks with potential buyers, Reuters reported Tuesday. A strategic buyer would help the company – Australia’s third largest biscuit maker – expand its Asian business.

(Reuters) – Private equity firm Lazard is in talks with potential partners in Asia to sell a stake in Australian biscuit maker Unibic, which is being squeezed by competition in the local market and high input costs, Unibic’s managing director said.

Unibic, Australia’s third-biggest biscuit maker, is looking for a strategic partner to help to grow the business and boost exports into Asia, Managing Director Michael Quinn told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.

“We’re caught in a bit of a squeeze with the raw material supply situation together with a very competitive retail environment,” Quinn said. “It makes it very difficult to operate without a reinvention of the business.”

“We are exploring a number of options, including part-ownership,” he said.

Unibic, with revenues of about A$70 million ($75 million), is ranked behind Arnott’s, owned by Campbell Soup Co , and Goodman Fielder’s Paradise brands.

Unibic, along with many suppliers, has been squeezed by cut-throat competition between the two top supermarkets, Woolworths and Coles , which have sharply cut prices and offered two-for-one deals on many foods.

(Reporting by Victoria Thieberger; Editing by Balazs Koranyi)