Gores close to taking a slice of Hovis from Premier Foods

Marion Dakers
PRIVATE equity company Gores Group is eyeing up a slice of bread brand Hovis as part of its parent company’s restructuring efforts, according to reports.

Current owner Premier Foods hired Ondra Partners several months ago to look at options for the bread company, and Gores is seen as the frontrunner to become a partner in Hovis’ turnaround.

The American private equity group, founded by buyout veteran Alec Gores, is in talks to take a majority stake in Hovis and inject tens of millions of pounds into the business, the Sunday Times reported yesterday.

Premier, which reported a debt pile of £890.4m at the end of June, is also planning talks to cut its £395m pension deficit and is weighing up a rights issue.

In October the group’s chief executive, Gavin Darby, said he had no plans to sell the Hovis business outright, and was focused on expanding it.

The business has struggled to compete with Kingsmill and last year set out plans to shut three bakeries and two mills.

Premier Foods, which also owns Ambrosia, Bisto and Mr Kipling, declined to comment yesterday. Gores did not respond to a request for comment.

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