The sale process for Tip Top is moving forward with more information to be released to potential bidders early this year, according to an information memorandum.

Investment Bank FNZC is running the tender for the Auckland-based ice cream business after Fonterra decided to offload it as part of an asset review designed to reduce debt by $800 million.

First established in 1936, Tip Top produces about 22,000 tonnes of ice-cream per year at its manufacturing and distribution site in Mt Wellington, Auckland.

Preliminary marketing material outlines Tip Top's brand portfolio, including "super-premium" brand Kapiti, "indulgence" products such as Memphis Meltdown and Trumpet, "mainstream" products such as Choc Bar and Jelly Tip and a "refreshment" category that includes Fruju and Popsicle.

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Tip Top has leading shares in both take-home and impulse markets with annual sales of $400m, according to the sale brochure.

The Herald understands Tip Top generates $18-$22 million in earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) per year.

FNZC lists six investment highlights including opportunities to "leverage Tip Top's brand portfolio in selected export markets". Current exports make up only about 10 per cent of sales.

The flyer also notes Tip Top's "long established" manufacturing operations with potential for improved efficiency.

Fonterra has said one of the reasons it is selling the business is because it had reached maturity as an investment for the co-operative.

"To take it to its next phase successfully will require a level of investment beyond what we are willing to make," the dairy giant said.

Sources say a new owner would have to invest up to $60m to modernise Tip Top's aging plant so it may make more sense to relocate to a new site, depending on who buys the brand.

Tip Top is expected to attract interest from overseas and local trade buyers and private equity firms.

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