Unilever to sell Spreads business to KKR

by Keith Nunes
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Unilever spreads
Unilever’s Spreads business features such brands as Country Crock and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.
 

 

LONDON —  Unilever P.L.C. has entered into an agreement to sell its Spreads business unit to the investment company KKR for €6.825 billion ($8.036 billion). The acquisition is being funded by both the European and North American private equity funds of KKR.

Johannes Huth, KKR
Johannes Huth, head of KKR E.M.E.A.

“The strength of the portfolio of consumer brands in Spreads provides a firm foundation for future growth,” said Johannes Huth, head of KKR E.M.E.A. “We look forward to deploying our global network and operational expertise to support the business’s growth ambitions, while continuing to follow Unilever’s responsible sourcing policies, including working toward the goal of sourcing 100% sustainable palm oil by 2019.”

Unilever’s Spreads business features such brands as Becel, Flora, Country Crock, Blue Band, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, Rama and ProActiv. In 2016, the business generated sales of approximately $3.569 billion, according to the company.

Paul Polman, Unilever
Paul Polman, c.e.o. of Unilever

“In April of this year we set out our 2020 program to accelerate sustainable value creation,” said Paul Polman, chief executive officer of Unilever. “After a long history in Unilever we decided that the future of the Spreads business would lie outside the group. The announcement today marks a further step in reshaping and sharpening our portfolio for long-term growth. The consideration recognizes the market leading brands and the improved momentum we have achieved. I am confident that under KKR’s ownership, the Spreads business with its iconic brands will be able to fulfil its full potential as well as societal responsibilities.”

Nicolas Liabeuf, c.e.o. of Spreads, will continue to lead the business.

Unilever spreads
 In 2016, Unilever's Spreads business generated sales of approximately $3.569 billion.
 

 

“There is a positive momentum in the performance of the Spreads business, and we are excited about continuing this journey with KKR,” he said. “We are confident that our business and the entrepreneurial spirit of our people will thrive further under new ownership.”

The acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals. Both parties expect it to be completed by mid-2018.
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