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    Report: Unilever Looks to Sell Toothpaste Brands

    LONDON - Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever is said to be looking to sell several popular toothpaste brands and other businesses worth a total of $300 million to $400 million, industry sources said on Monday.

    LONDON - Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever is said to be looking to sell several popular toothpaste brands and other businesses worth a total of $300 million to $400 million, industry sources said on Monday.

    The company, which has been working for the past three years to refocus its portfolio on 400 leading core brands, has hired investment bank Morgan Stanley to handle the sale.

    A Unilever spokesman declined to comment to Reuters.

    The sources said the businesses up for sale included toothpaste brands Mentadent, Pepsodent and Close-up. Close-up is promoted in the United States by American women's tennis champion Serena Williams. Under a five-year "Path to Growth" strategy announced in 2000, Unilever has been shedding hundreds of brands and is focusing heavily on its haircare and skincare products, which include Dove soaps and shampoos and the Ponds skincare range.

    The group, also one of the world's largest food companies with brands such as Ben & Jerry's ice cream and Lipton teas, sent a shudder through its share price last month when it reported a slow start to the year. The company said it was still confident of hitting its 2003 financial targets.

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