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Mondelez hires Morgan Stanley to study Tim Tam bid

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Mondelez International Inc. is working with Morgan Stanley as it studies a bid for Arnott's Biscuits, the Australian maker of Tim Tams, and Danish butter-cookie producer Kelsen Group, people familiar with the matter said.

[HONG KONG] Mondelez International Inc. is working with Morgan Stanley as it studies a bid for Arnott's Biscuits, the Australian maker of Tim Tams, and Danish butter-cookie producer Kelsen Group, people familiar with the matter said.

Australian buyout firm Pacific Equity Partners is also considering an offer for the Campbell Soup Co. brands, which may fetch as much as US$3 billion, according to the people. The assets have separately drawn interest from other potential bidders including Kraft Heinz Co., the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

For Mondelez, a deal would add to existing brands that include Cadbury chocolates and Oreo cookies. No final decisions have been made, and there's no certainty the suitors will proceed to submit bids, the people said.

Campbell Soup said in August that it's planning to sell its international and fresh food businesses after a three-month review. The company, which is under pressure from activist investor Dan Loeb to replace board members and sell businesses, laid out plans to reevaluate its portfolio of brands.

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Representatives for Kraft Heinz, Mondelez, Morgan Stanley and Pacific Equity Partners declined to comment.

"Campbell International will be attractive to many different types of buyers because of its strong brands and position in the market," Campbell said in a statement Monday. "We're focused on completing this transaction in a timely and disciplined manner that maximizes value." The company declined to comment further.

Kraft Heinz, which owns Planters peanut butter and Maxwell House coffee, agreed this month to sell its Canadian natural cheese business to Parmalat for C$1.6 billion (S$1.65 billion).

Sydney-based Pacific Equity Partners has a track record of making consumer-focused purchases. Its current portfolio include bakery products maker Allied Pinnacle, frozen pie brand Patties Foods and honey producer Manuka Health.

Any transaction will add to the US$128.7 billion of acquisitions involving food companies this year, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Arnott's Biscuits, whose products include their namesake cookies as well as chocolate-coated Tim Tams, started out in 1865 as a bakery near Sydney, according to its website. It currently employs about 2,400 staff in Australia and several thousand people across Asia Pacific.

Kelsen Group owns Royal Dansk butter cookies, known for their round blue tins, and Denmark's Kjeldsens.

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