Private equity groups CapVest and Permira are reported to have tabled bids for the Birds Eye frozen foods business.

The Financial Times reported in an unsourced article that the two groups had made formal bids via Goldman Sachs, which is handling the sale on behalf of Anglo-Dutch conglomerate Unilever.

Irish food manufacturer Kerry was yesterday (Wednesday) touted as the most likely candidate to buy Birds Eye after perceived frontrunner Capvest lost some of its financial backing, but it is unclear whether it has submitted a bid.

Kerry, Unilever, Goldman Sachs and all the private equity firms are declining to comment.

Although Birds Eye is profitable, Unilever has found it difficult to expand the business and put it up for sale last year.

Sales of Birds Eye frozen meals slid 13% last year to £105.9m (US$200.5m) while the brand’s frozen poultry line dropped 4.3%, according to AC Nielsen, the market research firm.