Unilever's spreads division looks set to be snapped up, as heavyweight buyout houses begin to solidify their interest in the divested group of brands.
City A.M. understands that Bain Capital has been sniffing around the £6bn business, home to brands such as Flora and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, while Sky News has reported that Bain will partner with peer Clayton Dubilier & Rice (CD&R).
CD&R may be able to provide a useful insight into Unilever's internal machinations, as partner Vindi Banga spent more than 30 years at the conglomerate.
A number of other private equity houses are readying to bid, sources have told this paper, but the price tag would likely be too large for one firm to commit alone.
Preparations for the auction were “well underway”, according to Unilever's chief executive Paul Polman as he announced half-year results last week.
The sale of the business was announced by Unilever in April, and Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs are running the process.
The two investment banks worked with Unilever when it beat off a £115bn hostile takeover attempt from Kraft Heinz earlier this year.
Bain and CD&R declined to comment on the spreads auction.