A deal for a majority stake in UK-based R&R Ice Cream could be signed in the next month.

just-food understands Oaktree Capital, which owns 82% of R&R, is in exclusive talks to sell its shares to fellow private-equity firm PAI Partners.

PAI emerged as the front runner for R&R, the largest retailer-branded ice cream supplier in Europe, last month. The Financial Times reported rival suitors, including the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan pension fund, had dropped out of the race.

Speaking to just-food yesterday (8 April), R&R chief executive James Lambert refused to comment on whether PAI was in discussions with Oaktree but confirmed talks with an interested party were continuing.

“We are in a period of exclusivity while some due diligence is taking place with one buyer but nothing has been signed,” Lambert said. A deal, he said, could be “about a month away”.

A spokesperson for PAI declined to comment when contacted by just-food this afternoon.

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Lambert and other senior R&R executives own the rest of the company. The R&R chief, who has been with the business since 1985, said he and the other managers plan to hold onto their shares and stay with the business. “It’s business as usual,” he said. “I’m intending over the next two years to build the business to a billion pound business in Europe.”

Lambert was speaking to just-food after R&R announced it a deal to buy fellow UK ice cream firm Fredericks Dairies.

just-food’s interview with Lambert can be found here.