LONDON/FRANKFURT, March 10 French food ingredient maker Diana Group has attracted bids worth more than 1.2 billion euros ($1.7 billion) including debt from Germany's Symrise and Japan's Ajinomoto, sources familiar with the matter said on Monday.
Buy-out firms CVC Capital Partners, Euroazeo and Pamplona are also in the race for the company, which is owned by private equity firm Ardian, the sources said, declining to be named as the matter is private.
Spokespeople for Symrise and Ajinomoto, a seasonings maker, declined to comment, though Symrise's chief executive told reporters it was too early to make a final offer for the company.
Eurazeo also declined to comment and officials for Pamplona, CVC and Ardian, formerly AXA Private Equity, were not immediately available for comment.
The auction is in the second round, and final bids are due by April 8, said one of the sources.
Ajinomoto has sought growth through deals, taking a 50 percent stake in Turkish food company Kukre Gida for about 60 million Turkish lira ($27 million) in November.
Symrise, for its part, has recently raised its stake in Swedish probiotics specialist Probi.
The news was first reported by the Financial Times, which said private equity groups Blackstone and BC Partners were no longer contenders for Diana.
France's Diana generated 415 million euros in revenue in 2012, making nutritional ingredients for the food, pet food and aquaculture industries.
Bankers prepared debt packages to finance the potential sale of Diana, banking sources told RLPC last month.