Unilever announced that it has made a binding offer to acquire the personal care business of the Sara Lee Corporation for €1.275 billion in cash. Where permissible, Sara Lee has agreed to accept the binding offer upon satisfaction of certain conditions. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and consultation with European employee works councils.
“Personal care is a strategic category and a key growth driver for Unilever," said Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever. "This transaction builds on our portfolio in Western Europe and also in Asia. The Sara Lee brands enjoy strong consumer recognition, offer significant growth potential and are an excellent fit with Unilever’s existing business.”
Vindi Banga, president of Unilever's foods, home and personal care division, added: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to acquire such a strong stable of brands, which will help build on our global leadership positions in skin cleansing and deodorants. They are a perfect complement to Unilever’s existing portfolio of brands like Dove, Axe and Rexona.”
"The divestiture of body care and European detergents would advance our strategy to concentrate on our core food and beverage businesses where we enjoy a strong competitive position and where we can generate superior shareholder returns," said Brenda C. Barnes, chairman and CEO, Sara Lee Corp. "Receiving an offer from a leading company like Unilever reflects the high quality talent, strong consumer recognition of our leading brands, and the significant growth potential of these businesses. We intend to use proceeds from the divestiture to invest for growth in our core businesses and to repurchase stock."
The acquisition, according to Unilever's announcement, will strengthen Unilever’s leadership positions overall in Western Europe. In addition, there is significant potential to build these brands in developing and emerging markets, which already generate approximately 15% of their annual sales.
The Sara Lee brands generated annual sales in excess of €750 million with an EBITDA of €128 million for the year ending June 2009.