NEW YORK, Feb 20 (Reuters) - The parent of popular protein drink company Muscle Milk is in advanced talks to sell itself, with Irish dairy company Glanbia PLC and consumer goods company Post Holdings Inc competing in the final stretch, people familiar with the matter said.
TSG Consumer Partners, the private equity owner of Muscle Milk parent CytoSport, initially hired Credit Suisse AG to take the company public but later decided to explore a sale, Reuters reported last year.
After an auction that also drew interest from WhiteWave Foods Co and Hormel Foods Corp in the early stages, Glanbia and Post have emerged as the final two contenders for a deal, the people said.
TSG has hoped to fetch more than $500 million from selling CytoSport and a deal may still fail to materialize if the expected price is not met, the people cautioned, asking not to be identified by name because the matter is not public.
A decision on the sale could be made in the next several days, one of the people added.
CytoSport, TSG and WhiteWave declined to comment. Glanbia and Hormel could not be reached for comment.
Glanbia has a large portfolio of grocery brands in dairy, whey protein and sports nutrition. Acquiring CytoSport would help broaden its range of sports nutrition brands, which include Optimum Nutrition and American Body Building.
Post, meanwhile, has been aggressively acquiring companies in the health and wellness category in the last several months. The company said in December it would buy protein bar maker Dymatize and in August acquired nutrition company Premier Nutrition Corp.
Founded in 1998 by father-and-son duo Greg and Mike Pickett, CytoSport sells protein-enhanced powders, shakes and bars. Its Muscle Milk product has been endorsed by star athletes, including National Basketball Association player Tyson Chandler, National Football League player Clay Matthews and Major League Baseball player Ian Kinsler.