German meat giant Toennies is reportedly exploring a sale of the business led by family member Clemens Toennies.

A sale of the family-owned company could possibly fetch as much as EUR4bn (US$4.8bn), Bloomberg reported, quoting unnamed sources familiar with the proceedings, who added the meat processor could start talks with potential interested parties in the next few weeks.

The publication’s sources said Toennies plans to approach global meat peers Tyson Foods, Brazil’s JBS and China’s WH Group, which also owns US pork processor Smithfield Foods.

No final decisions have been made around the disposal and there is no guarantee whether planned talks will lead to a deal, Bloomberg reported, adding Toennies and Tyson had declined to comment on the matter, while it had not received replies from JBS or WH Group.

just-food has also approached Toennies for comment this morning.

CEO Toennies holds a 45% share in the company, while his nephew Robert Toennies owns 50%, with Bloomberg's sources saying they are both willing to sell their stakes "in any deal".

Some of Toennies' German factories were hit by Covid-19 outbreaks last year, with around 1,000 positive cases recorded at a single plant in the north west of the country at one stage.