Allianz may be dispensing of Selecta business

Selecta, which Allianz bought from Compass Group in 2007 for £772m, employs 1,100 of its 6,000 staff in the UK and runs over 35,000 vending machines across the country.

Across Europe, Selecta has more than 150,000 vending machines catering to 6m customers every day, who buy chocolates, energy drinks, water, and coffee.

Allianz owns the company through its private equity arm, Allianz Capital Partners, which has drafted in investments banks for a beauty parade.

Consumer demand for on-the-go drinks and snacks has turned vending into a €26bn-a-year industry, according to the European Vending Association. But vending is a hugely fragmented sector, with about 3.7m vending machines run by around 10,000 companies in Europe. Most are small-to-medium enterprises and family businesses.

Despite the long tail of small companies, the vending machine model lends itself more readily to being run by much bigger companies. This is because the more machines are on one route, the higher the efficiencies and the larger the margins.

With the economic downturn squeezing many of the smaller businesses, insiders say the market is now ripe for consolidation.

Last year, CVC bought rival vending business Autobar for €1.2bn, with a plan to kick start industry consolidation.

CVC along with other private equity groups such as Terra Firma, Apax, Advent and Carlyle are expected to be potential bidders.

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