• Flotation could come as early as first quarter of 2016
  • Company formed in 2010 through merger of Pierre, Advance

Oaktree Capital Group LLC, the investment firm founded by Howard Marks, is considering an initial public offering of food manufacturer and supplier AdvancePierre Foods that could value the company at as much as $2.5 billion, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The firm is holding talks with investment banks about a listing of the company as soon as the first quarter of 2016, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Oaktree, which explored a sale of AdvancePierre earlier this year, created the company through a merger of Pierre Foods and Advance Brands in 2010, according to its website. AdvancePierre’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization will be about $260 million in 2015, one of the people said.

IPOs by portfolio companies haven’t fared well recently. Cerberus Capital Management and Ardagh Group SA decided to postpone listings of supermarket chain Albertsons Cos. and Oressa Ltd., respectively, citing volatility. Meanwhile, KKR & Co.-backed payments processor First Data Corp. reduced its IPO by 17 percent, pricing the shares $2 less than the low end of the proposed range.

AdvancePierre is based in Cincinnati and employs about 4,000 people across 11 manufacturing and sandwich-assembly facilities in Oklahoma, Ohio, Iowa and South Carolina, according to its website. Its brands include Barber Foods and Smart Picks.

A spokeswoman for Oaktree declined to comment, while a spokeswoman for AdvancePierre didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

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