United Biscuits has tabled a £250m bid for rival brand Mr Kipling.

The bid, which has been turned down by owner Premier Foods, would bring Mr Kipling under the United banner alongside brands such as McVitie's, Jacobs and Penguin.

News of the bid comes amid mounting speculation last week that Premier could be forced into a sale as it wrestles with debts of £1.7bn.

Chief executive Robert Schofield denied that the company would have to cash in on one of its major assets, although concern among investors over the scale's of Premier's debt has seen its share price collapse by almost 90% in 2008.

And for Schofield, who spent a number of years at United, the loss of Mr Kipling would be particularly galling, as he tried to buy his former employer in 2006.

Mr Kipling is one of the leading names in the Premier stable, alongside Sharwoods and Branston. The cake brand generates around £200m a year in sales.