May 2, 2018 / 6:12 PM / a year ago

EXCLUSIVE-Carlyle's Novolex in lead to acquire Newell Brands' Waddington -sources

May 2 (Reuters) - Novolex Holdings Inc, a packaging manufacturing company owned by buyout firm Carlyle Group LP , is in the lead to acquire Newell Brands Inc’s unit Waddington Group Inc for more than $2 billion, three people familiar with the matter said.

A deal for Waddington, which makes disposable cutlery and drinkware for the food service sector, would be the first major divestiture by Newell since it said in January it would explore options for several of its business lines, including Rubbermaid Commercial Products and Mapa.

Carlyle and Newell are in the process of finalizing deal terms after Novolex made the best offer in an auction for Waddington, and could reach an agreement in the next few days, the sources said on Wednesday, cautioning there was always a possibility that negotiations fall through at the last minute.

The sources asked not be identified because the matter is confidential. Carlyle and Newell declined to comment.

Newell, a U.S. consumer products maker, ended a proxy fight with activist hedge fund Starboard Value LP last month, with the company agreeing to add three new directors to its board. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn agreed to give up two of the four seats he secured earlier this year to pave the way for the addition of two new independent directors. (Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis and Harry Brumpton in New York; additional reporting by Joshua Franklin in New York, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

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