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Advent and wealth fund brew up joint £4bn bid for Unilever tea arm

Written by on 13/09/2021

One of the world’s biggest buyout firms has teamed up with an Asian sovereign wealth fund to table a £4bn offer for PG Tips and other leading tea brands owned by Unilever.

Sky News has learnt that Advent International and Singapore’s Government Investment Corporation (GIC) are in discussions about a joint offer for the division ahead of a bid deadline next week.

If confirmed, the Advent-GIC consortium would be pitted against rival suitors including a combined offer from Cinven and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, as well as interest from Carlyle, Clayton Dubilier & Rice and KKR, three other large private equity firms.

Alan Jope, Unilever’s chief executive, is seeking to sell or spin off its tea unit, which also includes famous brands such as Lipton Ice Tea, because of sluggish sales growth in the category globally.

Unilever, which owns more than 400 brands, will halve the 700,000 tonnes of plastic it uses each year by 2025. Pic: Unilever.com
Image: Unilever’s portfolio of brands includes Domestos and Cif. Pic: Unilever.com

Mr Jope began a strategic review of the division in January last year, and a disposal is unlikely to be completed until 2022.

The auction does not include Unilever’s tea operations in India or Indonesia, or its assets in the ready-to-drink tea segment.

It is the latest major food and beverage business to be earmarked for sale by Unilever, which sold its spreads business – comprising products such as Flora – to KKR for more than £5bn in 2017.

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Mr Jope has been focusing Unilever’s financial muscle on acquiring brands in faster-growing consumer product categories such as skincare, where it acquired Paula’s Choice, a digitally led brand, earlier this year.

Advent and GIC have teamed up on several previous deals, most recently when they announced this month that they were jointly bidding for Sobi, a Swedish biotech group.

Advent declined to comment on Monday.

 Sky News

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