* Unit valued at between 100 mln and 150 mln euros
* Final offers seen submitted soon-sources
* Rabobank running auction-sources
By Christian Plumb and Julien Ponthus
PARIS, Oct 28 Sara Lee Corp's auction
for its French baked goods unit has moved into the home stretch
with private equity firms Trilantic Capital Partners and Sagard
seen likely to post final offers, sources familiar with the
situation said on Friday.
Sara Lee is selling the unit, which various sources valued
at between 100 and 150 million euros ($212 million), as part of
a broader effort to divest its international bakery units. They
include its fresh bakery business in Spain and Portugal,
acquired by Mexico's Grupo Bimbo earlier this month.
Trilantic, formed by the former principals of Lehman
Brothers Merchant Banking, is one of the finalists in the
auction along with Franco-Canadian private equity firm Sagard,
the sources familiar said.
"Final offers should be submitted soon," one source said,
adding that a trade buyer could possibly put in a last minute
offer as well.
Sara Lee is being advised on the deal by Rabobank, which is
known for its strong expertise in French food and agriculture
related deals, said another source familiar, who described the
deal as "in its final leg."
The deal would be one of only a smattering of recent
European auctions involving private equity bidders to get done
as leveraged loan and high yield bond markets remain weak.
Rabobank declined to comment. Officials from Trilantic's
U.K. unit could not immediately be reached for comment. Sagard
declined to comment.
Sara Lee, which is splitting into two companies, one focused
on North American meat brands and the other on international
coffee and tea brands, confirmed that the unit, called
Eurodough, is up for sale, but declined to elaborate.
"We don't have any comments on the rumors of a specific
buyer or sales price," Sara Lee spokesman Mike Cummins said.
Eurodough, which once belonged to Anheuser Busch and was
acquired by Sara Lee in 2001, has annual earnings before
interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of about
15 million euros, two sources said.
With three different French factories, the unit is best
known for refrigerated dough sold under the Croustipate brand
that can be used to make pizza, croissants and cakes.