July 7 (Reuters) - Kind LLC has hired investment banks to advise on a minority stake sale it hopes will value the maker of the eponymous snack bars at more than $3 billion, including debt, according to people familiar with the matter.
The stake sale will test the interest of some of the largest consumer food companies, which are looking to revitalize their sales as consumers turn to novelty and healthier alternatives.
A deal could also give thirteen-year old Kind, which has developed a brand known for its use of ingredients "people can see and pronounce," its first corporate partner to expand both in the United States and abroad.
New York-based Kind, which has $727 million in annual sales according to Euromonitor, is working with investment banks BDT Capital Partners and Centerview Partners Holdings LLC on the stake sale, the sources said. BDT is also a minority investor in Kind.
The process could attract large food companies such as Kellogg Co, General Mills Inc, Campbell Soup Co PepsiCo Inc and Mars Inc, the sources said.
Kind is not offering the right to buy out the entire company down the line as part of the deal, one of the sources added.
The sources requested anonymity because the process is confidential.
"Kind is solely focused on becoming the foremost health and wellness leader to provide our consumers with delicious and healthy products so they can do the kind thing every day," a Kind spokesman said, declining to comment specifically on the stake sale process.
BDT declined to comment and Centerview could not be immediately reached for comment.
Kind, founded in 2004 by Daniel Lubetzky, the Mexican-American son of a Holocaust survivor, sells nut bars, breakfast bars, clusters and fruit bites. It was one of the first popular food snacks to eschew artificial flavors and preservatives, a trend that larger food companies are now embracing as they seek to woo back customers.
In the United States, the world's biggest packaged food market, upstart brands such as Kind could account for 15 percent of a $464 billion sector in a decade's time compared with 5.0 percent now, according to Bernstein Research.
In search of growth, food companies have turned to acquisitions, such as General Mills' $820 million deal for organic food maker Annie’s Inc in 2014. Still, minority investments in established brands such as Kind have been less frequent.
Private equity firm VMG group bought a stake in Kind in 2008. It later sold back its share to Lubetzky in 2014 in a stake sale that valued the company at $728.5 million. (Reporting by Lauren Hirsch in New York)