(Bloomberg) -- Private equity firm KKR & Co. is shelving a sale process for Upfield, the maker of Flora and Country Crock spreads, that was seeking to raise about $10 billion, people with knowledge of the matter said. 

The buyout firm decided to pursue other options after negotiations on a sale to Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund ADQ fell apart due to price disagreements, the people said. Upfield drew only muted interest from private equity bidders, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

KKR may now hold onto the business for longer and is considering the possibility of an initial public offering or minority stake sale, the people said. If it decides to go ahead with a listing, an IPO would likely take place in 2025 at the earliest, after KKR has had more time to deleverage the business, the people said. 

Upfield, formerly a unit of Unilever Plc, also makes margarine and spreads under brands like Becel and “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!” Representatives for KKR and ADQ declined to comment. 

Private equity firms are stepping up divestments in order to return cash to their investors. Still, they face a fragile market for dealmaking amid high interest rates, with large transactions sometimes falling apart due to a gap between buyer and seller expectations.

KKR paid €6.8 billion ($7.3 billion) to acquire Upfield from Unilever, which sold the unit under pressure from investors to accelerate growth and increase profitability after an abortive takeover attempt by US rival Kraft Heinz Co. The private equity firm has since undertaken a lengthy overhaul of Upfield’s operations, including acquiring plant-based cheese business Violife for €500 million.

--With assistance from Matthew Martin.

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