Private equity firms hungry for Unilever's Findus: report

LONDON Wed May 19, 2010 11:39pm EDT

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LONDON (Reuters) - Private equity groups Doughty Hanson DOUHA.UL and Charterhouse CHCAP.UL are eyeing Unilever's (ULVR.L) Italian frozen food unit, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.

Citing people close to the process, the paper said the private equity groups were looking to make a bid for Findus Italy, that markets frozen ready-meal dishes as well as fish and vegetables products, on May 25.

Sources close to the situation told Reuters Permira PERM.UL, which owns Birds Eye Iglo, and Lion Capital which runs Findus Group are expected to lead the bidding, while BC Partners BCPRT.UL and PAI Partners are set to look at the business.

Findus Italy has no links with the Findus Group.

The FT said Permira was also after a slice of Spanish doughnut maker Panrico, currently owned by Apax Partners.

Permira is also said to be a bidder for MW Brands MWBND.UL, owner of canned fish producer John West, alongside Blackstone (BX.N) and BC Partners BCPRT.UL, according to the FT.

Banking sources said last month that MW Brands' owner, Trilantic Capital Partners had held preliminary talks over a possible sale.

Unilever and the private equity groups could not immediately be reached for comment.

(Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Valerie Lee)

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