Three private equity firms linked to the purchase of UK firm R&R Ice Cream are understood to have gone through to a second round of bidding.

R&R Ice Cream, which has operations across Europe and supplies branded ice cream under licence as well as own-label lines, is reported to have received first-round bids before Christmas.

US investment fund Oaktree Capital owns 82% of R&R. Management including chief executive James Lambert owns the remainder of the business.

According to Reuters this week, three private equity firms, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R), Ontario Teachers Pension Plan and PAI Partners, have all submitted second-round bids for the firm. It is understood the business could fetch around EUR900m (US$1.2bn).

R&R had said in October it was exploring strategic options that could include a sale.

Ontario Teachers Pension Plan declined to comment on the reports, while CD&R and PAI Partners did not return a request for comment.

Despite the sale reports, R&R Ice Cream this month acquired the Yoomoo frozen yoghurt brand for an undisclosed sum.