Italy's Newlat has said it is in 'very advanced' talks to buy British food group Princes, confirming reports in the British and Italian media.
Sky News reported last week that British buyout firm Epiris and Newlat were competing to purchase Princes from Japanese owner Mitsubishi Corp, which the report said is seeking a price of £400 million (€463.9 million).
In a statement, Newlat said it was involved in a 'competitive process' for a deal.
'(Our) Chairman, Angelo Mastrolia, and the entire management team are committed to seizing a great strategic opportunity capable of creating value for all stakeholders of the group,' it added.
Princes supplies tinned fruit and fish under its own name brand, and also has other brands such as Flora sunflower oil and the Napolina range of Italian-style tomato sauces and cooking ingredients.
It traces its roots back to 1880, when it was founded as a fish importer in Liverpool, the northern English city where it retains its international headquarters. It has been owned by Mitsubishi since 1989.
The Newlat Group operates in sectors including pasta, milk and dairy, instant noodles and bakery products.
There was no immediate comment from Epiris.
In 2021, Newlat Food invested £53 million (€62.1 million) to acquire UK-based meat and snack manufacturer Symington’s Group.
Its brands include instant noodles brand Naked; Mugshot soups and ready meals; Twistd couscous and rice-based meals; Rochelle croutons; Chicken Tonight baking kits; and Ragu pasta sauces.
In 2020, Newlat Food said that it reported a 3.2% increase in revenue, despite the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.