Canadian asset management firm Brookfield Business Partners and global private equity giant Carlyle Group have emerged as the front-runners to acquire troubled wholesaler P&H.
According to Sky News, the two firms are among a number of parties who have tabled offers for P&H, which is understood to have appointed PwC earlier this year to facilitate a sale.
Brookfield recently completed the purchase of fuel distributor Greenergy, which delivers fuel to around 650 UK forecourts using its own haulage network.
It is expected that Brookfield will look to leverage the Greenergy business as part of its plans for P&H.
One senior finance source described Brookfield as a “longer-term investor”. “It is patient capital. A sensible investor with a good sense of value generation. As an organisation it is loved by the dealmaking community. It sees the big picture.”
Carlyle has a majority stake in healthy snack delivery business Graze, though it is reportedly looking to sell it off next year. This summer, along with The Nature’s Bounty Co, it sold Holland & Barrett to L1 Retail for £1.8bn.
“Carlyle are one of the biggest PE investors in the world; very much a global firm,” said another dealmaking source. “They have lots of different funds. For example, they have an Irish fund and a tech fund, which they used to invest in Graze. Their main fund probably has £10bn-£15bn in it.
“There is probably a Carlyle turnaround fund. Make no bones about it, P&H is in a pretty precarious position. We were looking at it with somebody else and our client is no longer involved.”
A P&H spokesman said: “The process of exploring our options is progressing well.
“We are confident of a successful outcome.”