Finnish food giant Raisio Group is tipped to buy Sugar Puffs owner Big Bear Group in a deal valued at around £80m, The Grocer has learnt.

An attempt by Big Bear to float on the Alternative Investment Market in January last year to raise cash for product development and acquisitions was abandoned because of market volatility. It had been expected to put a price tag of at least £75m on the business.

The company was founded in 2003 by Mario Giannotta, John Jackson, and Paul Wilkinson in order to acquire Fox's Confectionery from Northern Foods. Three years later, it acquired Honey Monster Foods from PepsiCo, bringing brands including Sugar Puffs into its portfolio.

Group sales have grown from just under £14m in the year to 31 August 2004 to £53m in the year to 31 August 2009. Operating profits were £8m in 2009 versus £1.1m in 2004.

Raisio Group acquired Leeds-based sweets and snacks company Glisten last year for £19.6m.

Raisio and Big Bear Group refused to comment.

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The Honey Monster takes up the health message with Rocks (9 May 2009)