A UK-based buyout firm and an Italian food manufacturer are battling for control of Princes Foods, one of Britain’s biggest canned goods brands.
Sky News understands that Epiris and Newlat are the two remaining bidders in the sale of Princes, which has been on the auction block for several months.
It was unclear on Friday when a deal could be struck or whether one of the bidders would pay the stated price of £400m.
Epiris and Newlat are said to have fended off competition rival bidders, including Lone Star Fundsthe Texas-based private equity firm and One Rock Capital Partners, another financial investor.
The auction is the latest attempt by Mitsubishi Corporation, the giant Japanese conglomerate that owns Princes, to offload the company.
An previous process completed this year could not attract interest at a sufficiently attractive price.
Princes produces preserved fish and fruit as well as a range of soft drinks.
It has been owned by Mitsubishi since 1989, but traces its roots back to 1900.
Its sales fell in 2022, but it remains one of the UK’s biggest food groups with a turnover of close to £1.5bn. in the year to the end of March 2022.
Bankers had previously suggested a break-up of the company was possible, with its oil business a candidate to be disposed of separately.
Epiris declined to comment, while Newlat could not be reached for comment.
The auction is led by Houlihan Lokey, the investment bank.