UPDATE 2-Quorn fields takeover interest from range of parties -sources
(Adds comments from Wilmar, Kerry)
By Martinne Geller and Freya Berry
LONDON, Sept 29 (Reuters) - The owners of Quorn, a line of meat-free packaged foods, is facing takeover interest from a range of parties from Asia, Europe and North America, as they look to cash in on the world's growing appetite for healthier food.
Monde Nissin from the Philippines and Wilmar International from Singapore are among the parties to have shown an interest, according to sources familiar with the matter.
An auction for Quorn, which is owned by Exponent Private Equity, kicked off earlier this month with detailed information sent to a range of potential bidders, said the sources, who declined to be identified.
French yogurt company Danone and Canadian French fries company McCain are also looking at the business, said one of the sources, as well as Ireland's Kerry Group.
First-round bids are due in mid-October, but a pre-emptive deal -- in the range of about 500 million pounds ($759 million) -- could be announced as soon as this week, one source said.
Wilmar, the world's largest palm oil processor which also sells consumer brands in sugar and sweeteners in Australia, said it did not make a preemptive bid. Exponent, based in London, Danone and Kerry declined to comment. Monde Nissin did not respond to requests for comment. McCain was not immediately available.
Quorn is a mycoprotein meat substitute, made by fermenting a type of fungus. It is sold on its own, in ready-meals or in products that replicate burgers, sausages or chicken fillets. Continued...