Premier Foods Rises on Report of Nestle Bid for Quorn

Premier Foods Plc, the maker of Hovis breads, rose the most in almost two months in London trading after Sky News said Nestle SA is bidding for its Quorn meat-free food unit in a deal that may be worth 230 million pounds ($358 million).

Nestle hired JPMorgan Chase & Co. as an adviser and made the offer through Osem Investments Ltd., an Israel-based unit that makes kosher food, Sky reported, without saying where it got the information. Osem’s U.S.-based Foodtech International Inc. unit makes meat-substitute products.

Premier said Oct. 28 it aims to sell assets to reduce net debt, which was 1.37 billion pounds as of June 26. Other food companies may be in the running for Quorn and an agreement will take at least several weeks, Sky said, citing people close to the situation. Quorn makes food from mycoprotein, a low-fat protein derived from a member of the fungi family.

Ferhat Soygenis, a spokesman for Nestle, declined to comment. Premier Foods spokesman Brian Hudspith said he was unable to comment on the Sky report. He said nothing has changed since Oct. 4, when the company said it was in discussions with a number of parties over the sale of its meat-free unit.

Premier rose as much as 10 percent, the biggest intraday gain since Oct. 4. The shares were up 1.56 pence, or 9.4 percent, at 18.10 pence as of 3:50 p.m. Vevey, Switzerland-based Nestle added 0.4 percent.

Premier, based in St Albans, England, had sales of 131 million pounds from meat-free products in 2009.