Reports have emerged a consortium made up of a state-backed Singaporean fund and buyout firm KKR is set to make a bid for the GBP6bn (US$7.7bn)-valued Unilever spreads division.

But another consortium, comprising private equity firms Clayton Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) and Bain Capital, which has also been linked with a bid for the division, is also said to be ready to throw its hat into the ring.

And a third bid from Blackstone and CVC Capital Partners has also been mooted.

A report on the UK’s Sky News suggests Singapore’s Government Investment Corporation (GIC) – which already owns stakes in British companies such as the RAC roadside recovery service – has agreed to back KKR’s interest in buying the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant’s spreads division which includes brands such as Flora and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.

KKR is a New York-based private equity firm specialising in leveraged buyouts. The firm sponsors and manages private-equity investment funds

Sky News suggests interest from a number of serious bidders could bump the price up although it points out Unilever could yet opt to dispose of the spreads business through a demerger to its existing shareholders if offers are not sufficiently attractive.

Speaking to reporters last month, after Unilever announced its financial results for the first six months of 2017, Paul Polman, the company’s CEO, indicated the group expected to be able to make an announcement on the future of its spreads business “towards the end of this year”.

The intention to sell or demerge the spreads division was announced two months after Unilever was the subject of an unsolicited GBP115bn takeover approach from Kraft Heinz, the US-headquartered food giant.