Shares in US food giant Sara Lee jumped today (4 October) as reports emerged that the company had received – but turned down – a takeover approach from private-equity group KKR.

The New York Post claimed KKR had tabled a proposal six weeks ago that could have led to a US$12bn deal.

The newspaper cited two sources that confirmed KKR had made the approach, which is said to have coincided with Brenda Barnes’ departure from Sara Lee as chairman and CEO for health reasons.

When contacted by just-food, a spokesman for Sara Lee said the company would not comment on “rumours or speculation”. A spokesperson for KKR also declined to comment.

Shares in Sara Lee were up 10.8% at $14.88 at 10:21 ET.