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December 2, 2010

UK: Premier silent on “Quorn talks” with Nestle

UK food group Premier Foods plc has refused to be drawn on a report that claims it is in talks to sell its meat-free brand Quorn to Nestle.

By Dean Best

UK food group Premier Foods plc has refused to be drawn on a report that claims it is in talks to sell its meat-free brand Quorn to Nestle.

According to Sky News, Nestle has tabled an offer through Israel-based Osem Group, a venture in which the world’s largest food maker owns a majority stake.

The report said Nestle had yet to secure the right to hold exclusive talks to buy Quorn and claimed “a small number” of other possible buyers are in discussions with Premier.

When contacted by just-food today (2 December), a spokesman for Premier said the company was “not saying anything” in response to the report.

A Nestle spokesman said the Swiss food giant did not comment on “market rumours or speculation”.

In October, Premier said it had received interest in its meat-free business, which includes Quorn and other products including the Cauldron brand.

Premier, the UK’s largest food maker, is said to be facing shareholder pressure to sell assets to pay down its debt. For the six months to 26 June, Premier’s debt stood at GBP1.37bn (US$2.13bn).

Investec analyst Martin Deboo has identified assets that he believes Premier could sell for GBP300m.

Last month, Premier also announced that it had got approaches for its canning operations in East Anglia.

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