The resurgence of much-maligned Premier Foods stepped up a notch this week with news it could be set for a windfall from the sale of its stake in Hovis.

The bread brand’s 51% owner Gores Group has reportedly hired banker Baird to find a buyer for Hovis in a deal that could raise between £100m and £150m after a trading boost during lockdown.

Premier, which sold a majority stake to Gores Group six years ago, still retains a 49% share in Hovis and a sale of the brand would provide a welcome cash boost after it failed to find a buyer for its own Ambrosia brand last year.

The listed food group wrote off the entire value of its stake in Hovis 2016, meaning any sale would represent a hefty balance sheet profit.

“£100m may be a bit rich, but either way, a sale would represent another particularly helpful step down in net debt,” said Shore Capital’s Clive Black. However, he noted finding a buyer could be “challenging” given competition concerns around other major UK breadmakers, suggesting instead interest could come from “regional brands, Irish and private label players, possibly private equity

Jefferies analyst Martin Deboo also advised “caution on saleability given low feasibility of internal industry consolidation”. But he said the story helped give further credence to Premier’s share price rebound as “Covid benefits to trading are proving to be persistent”.

This week, Premier shares surged to their highest level since US food company McCormick was bidding for it in 2016, rising 9.2% to 54.6p by Thursday lunchtime.

Elsewhere, two years after investors forced a rethink on a shift to the Netherlands, Unilever has come up with a plan to unify its structure under one parent company based in the UK.

The Anglo-Dutch consumer giant said the move would create a “simpler company with greater strategic flexibility, that is better positioned for future success”. Moving away from the current dual-headed structure would increase flexibility for portfolio optimisation, it said.

Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Sophie Lund-Yates said: “Unilever needs to be more flexible. Having a single parent company would achieve that, because it makes things like disposals easier.”

Unilever shares eased 0.7% back to 4,347p on the news.