British newspaper The Sunday Telegraph reported Saturday that London-based consumer products leader Unilever (UL) is planning to sell 6 billion pounds’ worth, or about $7.4 billion, of its food brands, reports Reuters.
The Anglo-Dutch company will reportedly look to sell its Flora margarine and Stork butter businesses. Sources say private equity firms Bain Capital, CVC, Clayton Dubilier and Rice have begun to build offers for the consumer product company’s “spreads business.”
A Comprehensive Review
The news comes after the company behind Dove products and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream turned down Kraft Heinz Co.’s (KHC) $143 billion bid last month. The company has seen its stock go on quite the roller coaster after Unilever’s chief executive officer wrote off Kraft’s bid as lacking any strategic or financial merit. As soon as the U.S. aggressor backed away, Unilever announced a comprehensive review intended to help return value to shareholders. The business review will reportedly focus on making medium-size acquisitions and slashing costs. (See also: Kraft Ends $143B Unilever Bid, But Story Not Over.)
Many of Unilever’s major shareholders have announced support for a separation of Unilever’s food business from its personal care division. The company has built out its portfolio of personal-care brands with recent acquisitions such as eco-focused company Seventh Generation. Dollar Shave Club, Living Proof and Blue Air. The recent news indicates that while Unilever may not be ready to shed its food business altogether, it surely is looking to rid itself of the least profitable segments. (See also: Unilever Shares Up, Big Holders Back Food Spinoff.)