Financial News

  • 4 October 2012, 9:16

Former Tesco Boss Among 'Biscuits Bidders'

Sir Terry Leahy, the former boss of Tesco, is spearheading a takeover bid for some of the most prominent brands in the British food industry, Sky News has learned.

Clayton Dubilier & Rice (CD&R), the private equity group where Sir Terry is a senior adviser, is among a pack of suitors expected to submit initial offers of approximately 500m next week for the snacks division of United Biscuits, whose products include Hula Hoops and KP Nuts.

Sir Terry, who became an adviser to CD&R last year, is understood to be working alongside Vindi Banga, the former head of Unilever's food, home and personal care business on the bid. Mr Banga is an operating partner at the US-based buyout firm.

CD&R is one of several private equity groups assessing bids for the UB division, which also owns the Twiglets brand. Intersnack, a German food manufacturer, is among the other interested buyers.

Among the companies in which CD&R is an investor is Brakes, the food-service operator, and Hertz, the car rental firm.

UB is owned by Blackstone and PAI Partners, two other financial investors, which are trying to sell the snacks and biscuits units of the companies separately following a failed attempt to auction the whole business in one piece in 2010.

Sir Terry's role underlines the way that private equity firms utilise the expertise of senior industry figures they recruit to advise them on offers for companies and assets.

The former Tesco boss retired from the supermarket chain last year after 14 years as its chief executive. Tesco today disclosed its first fall in half-year profits for more than 20 years, the catalyst for which has been heavy investment in improving the performance of its UK business. Philip Clarke, Sir Terry's successor as chief executive, said it was too early to claim that the domestic operation had "turned the corner".

CD&R declined to comment.Sir Terry Leahy, the former boss of Tesco, is spearheading a takeover bid for some of the most prominent brands in the British food industry, Sky News has learned.

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