The private-equity owners of the UK’s Young’s Seafood have put the company up for sale, they have confirmed in a statement.

Confirming markets rumours that have been circulating since December, Lion Capital, Bain Capital and HPS Investment Partners have invited prospective buyers to take part in a “structured and open bidding process”.

When a possible sale of the Grimsby-based business was first mooted four months ago, Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation – the owner of canned food producer Princes – was hotly rumoured to be plotting a bid. 

It remains to be seen whether that is the case and, if so, whether it will face competition to take ownership of the UK’s largest seafood business.

The private equity firms, which have owned Young’s for ten years, said in a statement through ownership vehicle Lion/Gem Luxembourg 3: “The board of managers of Lion/Gem Luxembourg 3 S.à r.l. has established a structured and open bidding process with all interested parties for the acquisition of up to 100% of the shares in its indirect wholly-owned subsidiary Lighthouse UKCo 5 (Holdings) Limited. This subsidiary, together with its subsidiaries, comprises substantially all of the operations and assets of the Young’s Seafood group.”

It said it intends to conduct a “thorough process” but provided the usual caveat that there can be no assurances that any offers will be made or, if one is, that it will be accepted.

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A spokesperson for Young’s Seafood confirmed: “We have sent out notification that we intend to start a structured and open bidding process with all interested parties for the sale of the Young’s Seafood group.”

It is understood investment house Stamford Partners will handle the sale process. 

Earlier this month Young’s announced that it is to close a factory in Scotland.