Blackstone, PAI Mull Sale of United Biscuits

Blackstone Group LP and PAI Partners are considering the sale of Britain’s United Biscuits for more than £2 billion ($3.06 billion), according to a person familiar with the matter.

The duo have spoken to banks but have yet to pick advisers for a possible sale, which would probably begin after the European summer holidays and wrap up early in 2011, the person added.

Blackstone Group, the New York mega-firm, and its French partner bought the maker of McVitie’s biscuits and Jacob’s cream crackers for £1.6 billion in late 2006. London-listed rival Premier Foods Plc had also considered bidding for United, which is based in Hayes, near London.

JPMorgan advised the duo on the 2006 purchase, while Goldman Sachs advised United Biscuits.

News of the possible sale comes amid a pick-up in deal-making involving food companies and buyout firms. Unilever sold its Italian frozen-foods unit Findus in July to Birds Eye Iglo, which is owned by the London buyout firm Permira Advisers LLP.United Biscuits, Britain’s biggest snack-maker, reported a 13.7 percent rise in EBITDA last year to £223.4 million, on revenues that rose 5 percent to £1.26 billion.

Blackstone and PAI declined to comment.

— Quentin Webb is a Reuters correspondent in London.