Ranks Hovis McDougall will be force fed with acquisitions over the next three to five years, in preparation for sale or flotation. But will its new owners be able to get a decent price for it? Doughty Hanson bought the business from Tomkins last week for £1.4m, planning to make RHM one of Europe's leading food companies and then sell it. Doughty Hanson is believed to have £500m available for acquisitions to grow RHM by up to 50%. However, analysts said last week that an RHM flotation would not be a success. One analyst said: "The UK food business is crappy at the moment with top line and bottom line pressure. He added that the UK food business had been underperforming, compared with the world market, for the past 10 years. Unless that changed before the flotation, he said, RHM would have to settle for a trade sale. RHM chairman Paul Wiilkinson will stay on with the rest of the management team. He was not available for comment on any acquisition plans. However possible purchases include Bestfoods' baking business and brands to complement the RHM stable, which includes Bisto gravy powder, Hovis bread, Mr Kipling cakes and Sharwood's sauces and spices. RHM's frozen baking business may also be expanded. Recent restructuring in the industry means that brands from Philip Morris and Unilever are up for grabs. Analysts expect RHM to choose British' brands to fit its current business. It is estimated that over 95% of UK households have bought an RHM branded product in the past 12 months. {{NEWS }}