Private equity companies Blackstone and CVC Capital Partners have jointly requested permission from Unilever to make a joint bid for the consumer goods firm’s spreads division.

Two Blackstone executives – former Marks & Spencer and Heineken CEO Marc Bolland and ex-Unilever chief operating officer Harish Manwani – would be involved in the offer for the £6bn (US$8bn) division, unnamed sources told Sky News on 31 July.

The news site also reported that the equity firms had hired a collection of food industry experts to advise them on the bid.

The Blackstone-CVC announcement came only days after Bain Capital and Clayton Dubilier & Rice formed a joint consortium to bid for Unilever’s spreads division.

According to inside sources, Apollo Management and KKR were also preparing to make their bids, Sky News wrote.

Unilever decided to sell or demerge its spreads division in April, two months after it was subject to an unsolicited US$143M takeover bid by US food giant Kraft Heinz.