Sara Lee to focus on food beverage with j.v. sale

by Eric Schroeder
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DOWNERS GROVE, ILL. — In a move that further signals a focus on its core food and beverage businesses, Sara Lee Corp. on May 13 agreed to sell its 51% stake in the Godrej Sara Lee Ltd. joint venture to Godrej Consumer Products Ltd. for €185 million ($232 million).

The Godrej joint venture, which markets insecticides sold throughout India, generated sales of approximately $158 million in fiscal 2009 and accounted for about 9% of the adjusted operating segment income for Sara Lee’s International Household and Body Care business, the company said. Sara Lee over the past year has received binding offers from Unilever P.L.C. for its Body Care business for €1.275 billion and from Procter & Gamble for its Air Care business for €320 million.

“The sale of our stake in the Godrej Sara Lee joint venture, combined with the previously announced binding offers with P.&G. and Unilever, underscore the significant value of our Household and Body Care portfolio,” said Brenda C. Barnes, chairman and chief executive officer of Sara Lee. “This sale is the next step in our strategy to focus on our core food and beverage businesses, where we’re positioned to continue to drive strong shareholder value.”

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