Private equity groups CapVest and Blackstone are widely tipped as the favourites to snap up Unilever's £1bn European frozen foods business.

Earlier this year Unilever said that it was selling the business, which includes brands such as Birds Eye and Iglo, but does not include its frozen foods business in Italy.

Reports suggest that Unilever's bankers, Goldman Sachs, sent out a memorandum last week, and Unilever is keen to complete the sale by the end of the year.