Unilever completes overhaul with £730m laundry unit sale
Tuesday 29 July 2008
Unilever completed the bulk of its asset fire sale yesterday after a private equity group secured its North American laundry business for $1.45bn (£730m), its second major deal in a week.
The deal is the Anglo-Dutch conglomerate's largest sale since announcing in August last year it was to divest a portfolio of non-core businesses with a combined annual turnover of €2bn.
The news sent its shares up almost 3 per cent to £15 in London yesterday.
Some investors speculated that it could lead to the group increasing its buyback programme, although a spokesman said the company had not decided what to do with the proceeds.
Unilever agreed to sell its laundry business in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico to Vestar Capital for a cash payment of $1.07bn and shares in the resulting company worth $375m.
A spokesman said: "The bulk of the selling programme has been completed with this deal. We have sold businesses with a turnover of €1.6bn out of the €2bn expected." The assets sold have brought in just over $3.6bn.
Vestar will merge the business, which has brands including Surf, Snuggle and Sunlight, with its existing Huish Detergents subsidiary to create a company called The Sun Products Corporation.
Unilever put the laundry division up for sale almost a year ago, and a spokesman for the company said: "We are happy with the result, we got a fair price. It took a while, but the beauty of not having a strict deadline to sell meant we could hold out on price."
Patrick Cescau, Unilever's group chief executive, said it was a good deal for shareholders and the business. "It puts our North American laundry people and brands into a company which is focused on the laundry category and which, with its new combined portfolio, is well-positioned to become a strong player in their market." He added that the laundry business will remain "an important category" for Unilever outside North America, with the deal allowing it to focus on boosting operations in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America.
This came just six days after the sale of its Bertolli olive oil and vinegar business to Spain's Grupo SOS for €630m (£500m). A spokesman said the group had held on to the brand's margarine, pasta sauce and frozen meals businesses as there was room for growth, but saw the olive oil business as almost a "commodity".
Among the businesses already sold under the overhaul plans were Boursin, the French cheese group, picked up by Le Groupe Bel for €400m in November. Later the same month it sold its marinades businesses Lawry's and Adolph's to McCormick & Company for €410m.
Unilever is seeking a successor to Mr Cescau, who is expected to stand down next May.
International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
Singapore sting: Sky-high prices are pushing locals to the edge of affordability
International Women’s Day: 'When a man gives his opinion, he's a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she's a bitch' - feminist quotes from female icons to inspire you
Exclusive: New evidence links the murders of Stephen Lawrence and a private investigator
Dead woman's body found sitting in a car after six years after direct debits ran $54,000 bank account dry
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
White people become less racist just by moving to more diverse areas, study finds
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
- 1 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 2 Orgasm machine to deliver climax at the push of a button
- 3 Singapore sting: Sky-high prices are pushing locals to the edge of affordability
- 4 Liam Neeson turned down James Bond role because late wife Natasha Richardson said she wouldn't marry him if he took it
- 5 Dead woman's body found sitting in a car after six years after direct debits ran $54,000 bank account dry
iJobs Money & Business
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: The company works with Tier 1 FTSE 100 Ba...
£32000 - £36000 per annum + generous benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: * TAX * ...
£37000 - £40000 per annum + £20000 benefits package: Pro-Recruitment Group: **...
£30000 - £35000 per annum + generous benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Mixed Ta...