(Fixes typographical errors in 11th paragraph regarding Michael Kearney's title)
By Lauren Hirsch
Sept 18 (Reuters) - Give and Go Prepared Foods Corp, a Canadian maker of thaw-and-serve sweet baked goods such as Two-Bite Brownies, is exploring a sale it hopes could value it at around C$550 million ($416 million), according to people familiar with the matter.
The Toronto based-company's owner, OMERS Private Equity, the buyout arm of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, has held talks with investment banks in recent weeks to appoint a financial adviser to run an auction or initial public offering for the company, the people said.
The sources asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential. Give and Go and OMERS did not respond to requests for comment.
A sale of Give and Go would seek to capitalize on Americans' penchant for indulgent baked goods, even as they move toward health products. Potential buyers include Flowers Foods Inc and Grupo Bimbo, the sources said.
Representatives of Flowers and Grupo Bimbo did not respond to requests for comment.
"Of the long-term trends consumer have, one is shifting into health and wellness ... when consumers splurge, they're really getting into premium indulgence" Michael Dart, a partner at AT Kearney's private equity practice, said.
Give and Go's brands include Two-Bite miniature baked treats and Kimberly's Bakeshoppe cupcakes. The Two-Bite brand, best known for its brownies, also includes macaroons, croissants and coffee cakes.
Give and Go provides private-label products to retailers across Canada, the United States, Mexico, Europe, Australia and Japan, according to its website.
OMERS bought Give and Go from private equity firm Kilmer Capital Partners in 2007.
Mexico City-based Grupo Bimbo has bought a string of Canadian bakery companies recently, including Toronto-based Italian Home Bakery, Canada Bread for C$1.83 billion and Saputo Bakery for C$120 million. Flowers Foods, based in Thomasville, Georgia, this week completed its acquisition of Dave's Killer Bread from Goode Partners Llc for about $275 million.
C$1=$1.32 Reporting by Lauren Hirsch in New York; Editing by Jonathan Oatis