Blackstone and China's Bright Food Group Plan Bid for GNC

Blackstone Group (BX) and Chinese food company Bright Food Group plan to bid for GNC Holdings, Bloomberg News reported.

The purchase of vitamin and nutrition-supplement retail chain GNC could be announced as soon this month, Bloomberg News said without naming its sources.

GNC hired investment banks Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) earlier this year to help it find a buyer. The company could fetch about $2 billion.

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Bright Food has been in the market for overseas acquisitions this year. In July, it attempted to buy CSR's Australian sugar unit. It is currently in talks to buy British company United Biscuits from Blackstone and PAI Partners. Those talks have now stalled.

In July, Bright Food unit Bright Dairy & Food bought a 51% stake in New Zealand dairy farm owner Synlait Milk.

Earlier this year, GNC and Bright Food agreed to form a joint venture that will help the U.S. company break into the Chinese market.

GNC was previously owned by Apollo Management. Apollo tried to take the company public twice. Both times, it withdrew the plans amid unfavorable market conditions. In 2007, Apollo sold GNC to Ares Management LLC and the investment arm of the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan for $1.65 billion.

GNC had profits of $51.1 million in the first six months of 2010, up from $37.4 million a year earlier.
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