Bright Food has emerged as one of the frontrunners to acquire UB, which has been put up for sale by private equity owners Blackstone and PAI.
The Shanghai-based company is estimated to value UB in excess of £2bn. If such a deal went ahead, it would likely attract the attention of politicians – and the public – concerned about the number of British companies taken into foreign hands.
A deal between UB and Bright Foods would scupper the sale of UB to Campbell Soup Company, the US food giant, which had previously been touted as a buyer for some of the business.
It is thought that other global food and drinks groups, including Kellogg, Kraft and PepsiCo could be in the running for UB. In July this year, details emerged that UB was gearing up to sell the business.
UB was previously listed on the Ftse 100 before it was purchased by Blackstone and PAI Partners in 2006 for £1.6bn. UB declined to comment.
The company owns a range of brands including McVitie's, Twiglets, Phileas Fogg, Hula Hoops, BN, Go Ahead!, Sultana, Skips, Penguin, McCoy's, KP, Carr's, Mini Cheddars and Jaffa Cakes.