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At least three buyout groups seen advancing in Unilever spreads auction - sources

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At least three buyout groups seen advancing in Unilever spreads auction - sources

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By Martinne Geller and Pamela Barbaglia LONDON (Reuters) – At least three bidders are expected to be shortlisted for the second round of an auction for Unilever’s <ULVR.L> <UNc.AS> margarine and spreads business while two other private equity groups are no longer in the fray, sources told Reuters. Buyout funds Blackstone <BX.N> and CVC Capital Partners, who were teaming up on a joint offer, are no longer in the running for the business which could be worth more than $7 billion (5.33 billion pounds), the sources said. BC Partners, which bid on its own, has not made it through to the second stage of the auction which is led by Goldman Sachs <GS.N> and Morgan Stanley <MS.N>, according to the sources. A team comprising Bain Capital and Clayton Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) is expected to move to the second round of bidding along with private equity rivals KKR <KKR.N> and Apollo <APO.N>, the sources told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity because the process is private. Bain and Apollo declined to comment. Unilever, Blackstone, CVC, BC Partners, CD&R and KKR were not immediately available to comment.

(Editing by Jane Merriman)
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