China based Bright Food to purchase the UK’s United Biscuits

United Biscuits may be up for sale if the Sunday Times report is anything to go by. The Newspaper carried reports regarding a planned purchase of the UK based firm by Chinese firm, Bright Food. The Chinese firm is currently believed to be in exclusive talks for the purchase. If successful, the investment will see the Chinese firm part with about 2.5 billion pounds.

Bright Food, based in Shanghai, China has pre-empted a planned auction to try and acquire the group whose brands include McVitie’s Digestive, Penguin and BN biscuits. China’s move comes as a shocker to a number of Western firms that have been eyeing the UK firm for quite some time now, reported the Sunday Times. It is understood that several western food groups were harboring plans for the acquisition of United Biscuits, amongst who is the US based Campbell Soup.

But even so, United Biscuits is currently controlled by foreign firms, Blackstone and PAI that bought it. The two private equity firms from the US and France respectively acquired the firm for 1.6 billion pounds four years ago. United Biscuits is the largest biscuit maker in the UK and employs a workforce of 7,000 strong, generating profits of 223 million pounds on sales of 1.3 billion pounds as of 2009.

Bright Food Group Co. Ltd is Shanghai’s largest food and dairy company. Its investment moves might result in a possible purchase of the U.K.'s United Biscuits from Blackstone Group and PAI Partners. Chen Chunshan, Bright Food spokesman was quoted saying the firm is currently in talks over a potential United Biscuits acquisition. However, he would divulge any more details regarding the transaction, said the Sunday Times.               

Bright Food (Group) Co. Ltd was established in 2006 and is a large conglomerate in China’s food industry. Developing the food industry chain is its core business as well the primary, secondary and tertiary industries. It aims at developing core industries, including modern urban agriculture dominated by seed breeding, eco-agriculture and standard agriculture and modern urban industry.

United Biscuits was founded in 1948 after the merger of two Scottish companies, McVitie & Price and MacFarlane Lang, and its brands are sold in more than 100 countries. Its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rose 14% last year to £223.24 million on sales of £1.26 billion last year, according to its annual report.

27 Sep 2010.