Grupo Bimbo has reportedly emerged as the front-runner to buy Sara Lee’s bakery business in North America.

Reports in the US said last night (26 October) that Mexican food group Bimbo was in the lead to buy the business, which could command a price tag of over US$1bn.

Bloomberg reported that private-equity firms are also looking at the business, which has been at the centre of speculation since the summer. In July, rumours swirled that Sara Lee had appointed banking advisors to set out the options for the business.

Analysts have supported the idea of a sale of Sara Lee’s North American bakery operations. One analyst told just-food in July that the unit had become Sara Lee’s “achilles heel”.

An acquisition would boost Bimbo’s sales in the US, where it already has a significant presence in the US bakery sector following its acquisition of George Weston’s fresh bread and baked goods business last year.