brakes delivery lorry

Foodservice giant Brakes looks likely to buck the trend of choosing a sale over a stock market flotation, with news this week it has started exploring a London listing for 2016.

It comes as Grant Thornton’s latest quarterly M&A analysis points to chicken processor Moy Park’s recent £950m takeover by Brazil’s JBS as evidence that private sales are still winning out over potential IPOs.

However, the success of other listed groups in the foodservice industry, such as Compass, Booker and SSP, and the lack of potential trade buyers were good indications an IPO was a more likely option for Brakes, said Trefor Griffith, head of food and beverage at Grant Thornton. “The market is dominated by Bidvest and Brakes, which would rule out a mega-merger from a competition perspective. And the sector has already gone through a lot of consolidation, playing more towards an IPO.”

Brakes has not commented, but reports suggest Bain Capital has appointed Lazard to advise on an IPO.

Previous Moy Park owner Marfrig is the most recent food group to opt for a sale after running a dual-track strategy, which gauges interest for a float while also looking for outright buyers. The private-equity owners of United Biscuits also turned away from an IPO in November last year to sell up to Turkish group Ulker for £2bn.

Across all sectors this year, the number of planned listings that ended as private sales had reached nine by mid-June, the highest since records began in 2008, according to software company Dealogic.