A second round of bidding for the auction of Unilever‘s Bestfoods baking business may be likely as companies struggled to reach yesterday’s deadline for bids.

Sara Lee and Earthgrains are expected to be amongst bidders, but sources close to the auction revealed that other interested partners like Grupo Bimbo de Mexico might approach Unilever with bids today. Canadian baker George Weston and buyout specialists Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst also expressed an earlier interest in the business.

Unilever are hoping to raise US$1.5bn (€1.62bn) from the sale of the bakery business but a second round of bidding would be attractive as it may push the price up further. Industry analysts expect Sara Lee to emerge as the likely victor for brands that include Entenmann’s pastries and Thomas’ English muffins, as it is the most likely to afford the asking price.