Iconic cereal brand Weetabix - which also manufactures Alpen, Ready Brek and Weetos, has been bought by US venture capitalists Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst for £642m.

Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst owns Premier Foods with household brands such as Typhoo tea, Rowntree’s jelly, Branston pickle and Ambrosia creamed rice.

Weetabix chief executive Sir Richard George said: “The common ownership of Weetabix and Premier will allow both companies to put additional resources behind its important brands and innovate through new product development.”

Sir Richard, whose family has run the business since before the Second World War, said the rest of his family knew nothing of the sale until yesterday.

He told The Times: “We like to keep things quiet.”

The existing management of Weetabix will continue in their current roles, with no job losses envisaged.