Tomkins to auction Rank Hovis and British Bakeries

by Teresa Acklin
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Tomkins P.L.C. plans to auction off its European food manufacturing businesses, including Rank Hovis, the largest flour miller in the United Kingdom, and British Bakeries, one of the largest U.K. bread bakers, according to a recent report in the Financial Times.

Citing unnamed sources close to Tomkins, the newspaper said Tomkins intends to begin the formal auction process in the next two months.

The international buyout group Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst, owners of Hillsdown Holdings' food business, were initially interested in the purchase, but negotiations did not proceed, the paper reported.

In July, Tomkins announced that it would either sell or spin off the European food business by the early part of 2000. Later, the Sunday Business suggested that Tomkin's chairman, Greg Hutchins, was beginning to favor a management buyout as bringing a higher price for the business.