Sara Lee split company in two

US food giant Sara Lee has agreed in principle to divide the company into two separate, publicly traded companies, in the wake of reports that Brazilian meat processor JBS was considering a buy-out of the firm.

Under the plan approved by its board, Sara Lee’s North American Retail and North American Foodservice businesses will be spun-off, tax-free, into a new public company that will retain the ‘Sara Lee’ name. Its leading brands will include Sara Lee, Jimmy Dean pork sausages and meat products, Ball Park hot dogs, Hillshire Farm meat products, Chef Pierre pies and State Fair corn dogs.

The yet-to-be-named other company will consist of Sara Lee’s current international beverage and bakery businesses, as well as the North American beverage business.

James Crown, Sara Lee Corp chairman of the board, said: “We have carefully considered various strategic alternatives, including unsolicited indications of interest in the company. We believe that the spin-off, plus the one-time special dividend, offers the greatest potential for delivering long-term shareholder value.”

JBS, the largest meat company in the world, was reported to be working with private equity firm Blackstone Group, on a bid for Sara Lee Corp, for as much as $13.4bn and then to sell its European coffee business to Blackstone in a subsequent deal.

>>JBS in reported bid for Sara Lee Corp

>>JBS buys the Toledo Group