Calbee is reported by Sky News to be the latest of a number of firms expected to submit offers for the division

Calbee is reported by Sky News to be the latest of a number of firms expected to submit offers for the division

Japanese snacks group Calbee is understood to be a late entrant in the auction of the salty snacks business of United Biscuits.

Calbee is reported by Sky News to be the latest of a number of firms expected to submit offers for the division, which manufacturers products include Hula Hoops and KP Nuts, of around GBP500m (US$807.6m).

The Japanese company is said to have hired independent financial advisory group Rothschild to advise on a potential bid. The banking group, however, declined to comment and Calbee did not return a request for confirmation.

A spokesperson for United Biscuits confirmed to just-food in September that it was "actively trying to sell the KP snacks business" and that documentation giving details of the business had been sent to potential purchasers.

Recipients of the sale documents were understood to likely include many European consumer-focused private-equity firms, US food groups including Kellogg and Kraft Foods, and possibly some Chinese food groups.

Last month, former Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy was understood to be leading a bid by private equity firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice (CD&R).

United Biscuits did not return a request for comment on the report. 

The closing date for bids is the end of the month.