The owners of Britain’s Fox’s Biscuits are in early stage talks to sell the business to rival biscuit maker Burton’s Biscuit, owned by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, two sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
Fox’s, maker of Party Rings biscuits, dates back to 1853. The sale is being advised by Rothschild and could value the company at around 340 million pounds (US$486 million), the people said, noting that the talks were at an early stage and no deal is certain.
Fox’s is owned by U.K. food group 2 Sisters, whose holdings include Goodfella’s Pizza.
Ontario Teachers, 2 Sisters and Rothschild declined to comment.
Burton’s, which makes Maryland cookies, Wagon Wheels and Jammie Dodgers, is about as old as Fox’s and has long been rumoured as a suitor for the Party Rings manufacturer, especially after losing out to Turkish food group Yildiz Holding, owner of Ulker Biskuvi (ULKER.IS), for United Biscuits. That business was sold by Blackstone Group (BX.N) and PAI Partners for more than 2 billion pounds (US$2.85 billion) in 2014.
Snacks businesses have long been favored by private equity investors. Ontario Teachers bought Burton’s Biscuit Co in November 2013 and has been exploring ways to grow the business, organically and through acquisitions.
Ontario Teachers has also explored diversifying the business, introducing savory, slightly healthier snacks, including the revival of Burton’s Daily Fish ‘n’ Chips.
Fox’s Biscuits has made around 1,450 billion biscuits since it began, according to 2 Sisters’ website.
Update: Ontario Teachers bought Burton’s Biscuit in 2013 from Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and U.S. private equity firm Apollo Global Management, the company’s majority owners since 2009.
(Reporting by Freya Berry, additional reporting by Martinne Geller; editing by Adrian Croft)
(This story has been edited by Kirk Falconer, editor of PE Hub Canada)
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.