Bain Capital and Clayton Dubilier & Rice, two large-scale global private equity groups, have joined forces to make an offer for Anglo-Dutch food giant Unilever’s spreads department.

The investors’ collaboration effort was the first significant bidding group to make an offer for the £6bn (US$7.9bn) division, which included famous brands such as Flora and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, reported Sky News on 25 July.

According to the UK news channel’s sources, CD&R was mostly interested in former Unilever foods executive Vindi Banda and former Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy, while Bain was looking to add Unilever spreads to its portfolio of business units acquired from large multinationals.

Unilever confirmed its plans to sell the spreads unit in April, only two months after the company had rejected a US$143bn takeover offer from Kraft Heinz.

Paul Polman, Unilever CEO, told Sky News that the preparations for the auction were proceeding according to plan.

The spreads division had been in a long-term decline due to increasingly health-conscious consumers switching their preference to butter-based spreads.