Renewed speculation suggests that two of the UK’s leading biscuit manufacturers, Burton’s and Fox’s, have held exploratory talks about a merger which would create a major competitor for United Biscuits. Sources suggest that the talks are exploratory and preliminary and much work remains to be done before any deal is agreed.
Such rumours are not new. Last autumn it was suggested that the American private equity company CD&R was part of a consortium to put the businesses together. Burton’s was subsequently sold to the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, which made plain its ambition to build the business up by acquisition both within the UK and internationally.
Burton’s owns brands including Maryland Cookies and Jammie Dodgers and Wagon Wheels, as well as holding a licence to distribute Cadbury’s biscuits: while Fox’s sells a wide range of biscuits mostly under the core brand. It was owned by Northern Food until early in this millennium.
The value of each part of the merger has not yet been agreed and the parties are not available for comment, but Fox’s parent. Seven Sisters, has expressed a desire to reduce debt. Meanwhile United Biscuits is expected to be put up for sale later in the year.