Speculation over the future of Sara Lee has taken another twist, with reports in the US that the Brazilian beef processor JBS is heading a group of companies ready to bid for all or part of the US food manufacturer.

The news agency Reuters has today (21 January) said that JBS is backed by a financing package made up of commitments from international banks for loans. It may also look to the equity markets to make up any shortfall in funding.

Reuters cited a source with direct knowledge of the situation. The source did not elaborate on the structure of the bid and declined to name other members of the group.

Brazilian meat giant JBS has been linked to Sara Lee since before Christmas and was said to have already had a bid for the business turned down.

The Brazilian company is not alone in its interest. Private-equity group KKR has recently been linked to a possible bid for Sara Lee – although there is speculation that the US food group has barred the buyout house from any possible sale discussions.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that a consortium of four private-equity firms, including Apollo Global Management, was also exploring its own bid for the business. Reports elsewhere have suggested that Sara Lee plans to split itself into two – with a company focusing on processed meat and one focusing on coffee.

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By GlobalData

Amid the speculation, Sara Lee, which has been without a CEO since last summer when Brenda Barnes stepped down due to illness, has declined to comment.