Gary Lane, the millionaire who recently bought the Sultan of Brunei's houses in Auckland's swanky inner-city suburb Herne Bay, has put his health food supplements and food manufacturing businesses Healtheries and Hansells on the block, according to people familiar with the plan.

Lane has appointed investment bank First NZ Capital to sell the well-known New Zealand firms, which could be worth as much as $200 million. A sale, expected to be complete within three months, will leave Lane substantially cashed-up.

According to last year's National Business Review Rich List, Lane is worth $225 million. He also owns property - including a share in the Wairakei golf course - and has investments in Australia. A keen sailor, he is chairman and a shareholder of superyacht maker Alloy Yachts. Lane was not available for comment.

It is not clear why he wants to sell, but the Business Herald has learned he wants to exit both businesses and is looking for trade buyers or private equity players to buy the businesses.

They are unlikely to be floated on the stock market.

He is not ruling out selling the two businesses as a job lot or piecemeal. First NZ Capital is expected to invite offers in the coming weeks.

Healtheries makes vitamins and minerals, garlic and herbal supplements and a range of herbal and fruit teas. Its roots go back 100 years and it is now a global exporter, distributing products on five continents.

It employs more than 200 people.

Hansells began operating in the food business as a manufacturer of culinary essences in 1934. It produces and distributes baking products, drinks such as Vitafresh and Jungle Juice brands and soups, cereals, home-made yoghurt and sweeteners.

It has manufacturing sites in Masterton and Auckland and 230 staff. Annual sales total about $55 million.

Talk of a sale has swirled in financial markets for some time. Reports of it emerged from Australia in 2004.

At the time Australian health food group Blackmores indicated its interest in Healtheries and it is expected to be interested still. Other potential buyers include global giants such as Unilever and private equity funds.


WHAT'S ON THE MENU
HEALTHERIES

* Headquarters: Mt Wellington.

* Employs more than 200.

* Founded in New Zealand in 1904 to stone mill and package specialty flours. Healtheries now markets a range of food and healthfood supplements.

* Brands: Healtheries, Mcfarlane, Fruit Smash, KidsCare, Simple, Jointex.

HANSELLS

* Headquarters: Greenlane.

* Employs 230 staff with annual sales of $55 million.

* Began in the food business as a maker of emulsion culinary essences in 1934.

* Brands: Vitafresh, Quench, Thriftee, King Traditional Soup, Yog-it, Sugromax, Hansells, King, Baker Halls Original, Jungle Juice.