KP Snacks – which makes Hula Hoops, KP Nuts and Skips – could be sold to a Russian-British private equity firm in a £450 million auction.
Pamplona Capital Management has emerged as one of the favourites to win the UK’s second-largest branded snack company, which employs 1,500 staff.
Rivals include Permira, CD&R, TDR, CapVest and German family-run Intersnack, all expected to submit bids before this Tuesday’s offer deadline.
KP Snacks is the junior partner within its parent group, United Biscuits, ultimately owned by private equity firms Blackstone and PAI.
KP accounts for 20% of the total group, dominated by biscuit brands, such as Jaffa Cakes and Penguins.
A 2010 sale of United Biscuits to China’s Bright Food fell through, leading to a break-up of the company.
Nick Bunker – former president of Kraft UK, which was the £2bn Cadbury business – was parachuted in to take over as chief executive.
The high private-equity interest in the auction is based on KP’s growth potential.