A battle for ownership of Biffa is reported to be underway between Chinese and US businesses.
The Sunday Times reported that an unnamed state-backed waste company in China is taking on US private equity business Apollo in a £1bn contest to buy Biffa.
The potential Chinese buyer, described as a “state and private enterprise”, is said to be ahead in discussions.
But the paper quotes City sources as saying that another suitor from south-east Asia is in late-stage talks about a takeover.
Biffa’s owner, US investment firms Angelo Gordon, Avenue Capital and Sankaty Advisors, put the company up for sale last year.
Sky News reported at the time that Rothschild would manage an auction and also consider a stock market float.
In an interview in 2015, Ian Wakelin, Biffa’s chief executive, said a return to the stock market was a logical move.
“I do think that Biffa back in public hands would be an attractive investment, particularly with its growth potential,” he said. ”I think it would be a good place for the company to end up. For me, the most natural home for this business is back in the publicly quoted environment.”
Formerly part of Severn Trent, Biffa became a separate listed business before being taken over by a consortium comprising HBOS, Global Infrastructure Partners and Montagu Private Equity.
Biffa and Rothschild declined to comment to the newspaper.