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    Sara Lee Plans to Split

    Retail and foodservice businesses would be combined and spun off
     

    After weeks of failed bids and acquisition speculation, Sara Lee Corp.’s board of directors has agreed in principle to divide the company into two separate, publicly traded companies, the separation expected to be completed in early 2012.

    Each of the new companies will have “leading consumer brands, compelling growth prospects and strong potential to deliver long-term value to shareholders,” the company said in a release.

    Sara Lee’s North American retail and foodservice businesses will be spun off into a new company that will retain the Sara Lee name and will include its namesake brands as well as Jimmy Dean, Ball Park, Hillshire Farm, Chef Pierre and State Fair. This company would likely remain based in Downers Grove, Ill.

    The yet to be named other company will consist of Sara Lee’s current international beverage and bakery businesses, as well as the North American beverage business. Its leading brands will include Douwe Egberts, Senseo, Pickwick, Maison du Café, L’Or, Café Pilão, Marcilla and Bimbo.

    James Crown, Sara Lee’s chairman of the board, said the move “is a logical step following the divestment of our international household and body care business and the announced sale of our North American fresh bakery business.”
     

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