Italian food group Newlat has confirmed it is one of the parties vying to acquire canned food giant Princes.

Following a report from Sky News over the weekend that British buyout firm Epiris and Newlat were competing to buy Princes, the listed Italian group today confirmed it was a participant in a “competitive process”.

Newlat, which in 2021 acquired Naked and Chicken Tonight maker Symington’s as part of its ambitious plans to grow sales to €1bn across Europe, said the talks to acquire Princes were “in a very advanced stage”.

It said its chairman Angelo Mastrolia, and the entire management team were “committed to seizing a great strategic opportunity capable of creating value for all stakeholders of the group”.

It added that the market would be promptly informed about all significant developments of the ongoing negotiation.

Sky News suggested the price for Princes would be around £400m.

The Grocer previously identified Epiris, US rivals Lone Star and One Rock Capital and trade players Newlat and Valeo Foods as leading contenders to buy Princes, with the price in September thought to be around £700m.

The sale process being run on behalf of Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi Corporation – which has owned Princes since 1989 – by investment bank Houlihan Lokey was paused in June after early bids fell well short of a £600m asking price, as reported by The Grocer.

Newlat has had ambitions to grow in the UK in recent years, bidding for Hovis in late 2020 in addition to its Symington’s acquisition.