US buyout firm bidding for Bass Brewers

US buyout firm Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst is bidding for Bass Plc's £2 billion brewing business, according to reports.

Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst, a US buyout firm, has joined a throng of suitors for Bass Plc's brewing business, Bass Brewers, according to reports.

Hicks Muse is competing with several European brewers, including Heineken and Carlsberg, who have previously indicated an interest in the Bass business, which owns the popular Carling, Worthington and Hooch brands.

Bass said in February it was considering a sale of the unit, which analysts think could fetch as much as £2 billion.

Parties to talks between Hicks Muse, Bass and Schroders, advisers to the leisure group, declined to comment on any possible deal.

Hicks Muse has raised 1.5 billion ($1.5 billion) for European buyouts, and already owns two French champagne brands and one of Britain's biggest food companies, Hillsdown Holdings.

Bass Brewers posted an operating profit of £160m in 1999 (up 6.7%), a year in which its share of the UK market grew to 24.5% (up 0.5%), despite a drop in overall domestic demand.