San Miguel Considering Bid for United Biscuits, Ang Says

San Miguel Corp., the largest Philippine company which signed a $1 billion airline stake sale deal this week, is considering a bid for British snacks maker United Biscuits Holdings Ltd.

San Miguel’s President Ramon Ang confirmed a Sky News report that said unit San Miguel Pure Foods Co. is one of a handful of companies interested in the maker of Digestives biscuits and other snack brands. Ang didn’t provide additional information.

San Miguel, the country’s most acquisitive company since at least 2008, agreed on Sept. 8 to sell back its stake in Philippine Airlines Inc. to billionaire Lucio Tan. The sale provides Ang with funds to boost investments in infrastructure as well as in legacy food and brewery business where the company expects sales growth to almost double this year.

“After selling Philippine Airlines, San Miguel has extra cash and it needs to put its money in other ventures,” Astro del Castillo, managing director at First Grade Finance Inc., said by phone. “United Biscuits also complements the group’s food business. For Ang, if the price is right, buy and if the price is right, sell.”

San Miguel rose 0.4 percent to 80.40 pesos at the close of trading in Manila, its highest price since July 25. San Miguel Pure Foods gained 1.4 percent to 228 pesos.

United Biscuits, based in Hayes, England, was created in 1948 from the merger of two Scottish companies, McVitie & Price and MacFarlane Lang. It competes with companies including U.S. snack makers Snyder’s-Lance Inc. and ConAgra Foods Inc.

Saudi Arabian food producer Savola Group, Italian confectionery group Ferrero SpA and Turkey’s Ulker Biskuvi Sanayi AS are among companies that are interested, Sky News reported.

San Miguel expects revenue from its food and drinks business to rise at least 5 percent this year, compared with about a 2 percent increase in 2013, Ang said on June 10. Sales from energy and infrastructure may rise by at least 20 percent this year, he said.

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