Danone poised to land top UB Euro brands

Danone is poised to acquire United Biscuits’ (UB) top European brands if the company is sold to US and French venture capitalists.

US group Burlington and French bidder Finalrealm, which includes Danone, are finalising a joint bid for UB following a three-month bidding war between the two.

UK “power brands” such as McVitie’s Penguin, Digestives, BN and the Go Ahead! range, along with KP Foods’ Hula Hoops, would remain part of the new business, and could be rolled out into new markets.

A UB financial spokesman says: “The new entity will want to leverage the main brands as much as possible in new markets.”

Finalrealm, which would take a controlling stake in UB under the proposed bid, lists Danone among its backers.

It is understood UB’s leading central European brands – which include Hungarian biscuit Gyori Keksz and Polish biscuit San – would be sold off to Danone, along with UK brand Tuc.

The Burlington consortium includes US biscuit giant Nabisco and private equity group Hicks Muse Tate & Furst.

Nabisco would be offered UB’s brands in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. In return, the new company would take on Nabisco’s European, Middle Eastern and African operations, increasing its value from £1.2bn to £1.5bn.

It would also acquire Horizon Biscuits from Premier Brands, formerly known as Hillsdown Holdings. Premier Brands was formed last summer when Horizon and Typhoo Tea merged after Hillsdown was bought by Hicks Muse.

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