Kellogg has declined to comment on reports that it is preparing a GBP2bn (US$3.4bn) bid for UK McVitie’s-to-Jacob’s biscuit maker United Biscuits.

According to Sky News, Kellogg is working with investment bank Barclays to put together an offer for the UK’s largest biscuit manufacturer. A spokesperson for the company declined to comment on “rumours or speculation” when approached by just-food today (6 August).

Reports of a possible sale of United Biscuits have circulated periodically since private equity owners Blackstone Group and PAI Partners failed to sell the business as a going concern in 2010. In 2012, the private-equity investors split United Biscuits into two units – salty snacks and sweet biscuits. The salty snacks business was then sold to Germany’s Intersnack. 

United Biscuits has since overhauled its brand strategy, with the creation of two “master brands” in McVitie’s and Jacob’s. The group has stepped up its marketing investment in a bid to accelerate top line growth in the UK, while also focusing on exploiting international expansion opportunities.

Industry sources have speculated that Blackstone and PAI could be preparing a possible IPO or sale at the end of this year.

A number of other parties have been linked to a potential takeover, including the Campbell Soup Co and Chinese investment firm Hony Capital alongside an unnamed strategic partner.

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Kellogg has worked to increase its exposure to snacking categories as the group works to offset weak sales in its cereal business. According to Bernstein analysts, UB could be a “good fit” for the firm.

“Management has indicated that they are open to acquiring businesses where they can find synergies, and given their overlap in Western Europe and the opportunity to piggyback on top of existing distribution infrastructure, the acquisition of United Biscuits may make sense from this perspective,” the analysts wrote.