KKR is the latest private-equity firm to be linked to a possible bid for Sara Lee – although there is speculation that the US food group has barred the buyout house from any possible sale discussions.

Reports in the US have suggested KKR is considering throwing its hat into the ring for Sara Lee, which has been at the centre of takeover speculation for months.

On Wednesday (12 January), Reuters claimed that KKR could team up with other interested parties and table an offer for the US food group. KKR is said to have had a bid for Sara Lee rejected last year.

However, in a further twist, The New York Post said yesterday (13 January) that Sara Lee’s board has decided to exclude KKR from any possible sale talks.

Brazilian meat giant JBS has also been linked to Sara Lee and before Christmas was said to have had a bid for the business turned down.

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that a consortium of four private-equity firms, including Apollo Global Management, was exploring its own bid for the business.

Reports elsewhere have suggested that Sara Lee plans to split itself into two – with a company focusing on processed meat and one focusing on coffee.

Amid the speculation, Sara Lee, which has been without a CEO since last summer when Brenda Barnes stepped down due to illness, has declined to comment.