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    Unilever Selling North American Laundry Business

    The deal will allow the conglomerate to focus on its laundry business in the European, Asian, African, and Latin American, where it maintains leading positions.

    Unilever said yesterday that it has signed a definitive agreement to sell its North American laundry business in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico to worldwide private equity firm Vestar Capital Partners.

    Vestar plans to merge the Unilever business with its existing operation, Huish Detergents, Inc., to create a new company, the Sun Products Corp.

    Under the deal Unilever receives a cash payment of $1.075 billion, along with preferred shares in Sun Products with a face value of $375 million, and warrants offering the chance to acquire up to 2.5 percent of the common equity of Sun Products.

    Included in the sale are all, Snuggle, Wisk, Surf, and Sunlight brand laundry detergents and fabric softeners, in addition to Unilever's manufacturing plant in Baltimore.

    "[The deal] 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," noted Unilever group c.e.o. Patrick Cescau.

    Continued Cescau: "Laundry remains an important category for Unilever outside North America. This transaction will allow us to focus our resources on our leading positions in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America, where we continue to drive for expanded leadership."

    The U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico laundry business generated $1 billion in turnover for Rotterdam-based Unilever last year.

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