Unilever to sell its Spreads business to KKR for £6.031bn

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Unilever Spreads ceo Nicolas Liabeuf will continue to lead the business
Unilever Spreads ceo Nicolas Liabeuf will continue to lead the business

Related tags Private equity Entrepreneurship Unilever

Unilever has agreed the long-awaited sale of its global Spreads business to private equity firm KKR for £6.031bn (€6.825bn).

The deal – which was announced on Friday (December 15) – will result in the giant supplier of food and refreshment products, personal care and home care items selling its Spreads business to the global investment firm on a cash-free, debt-free basis. 

Unilever ceo Paul Polman said: “In April of this year we set out our 2020 programme to accelerate sustainable value creation. After a long history in Unilever we decided that the future of the Spreads business would lie outside the group.

‘Sharpening our portfolio’

“The announcement today marks a further step in reshaping and sharpening our portfolio for long term growth. The consideration recognises the market leading brands and the improved momentum we have achieved. I am confident that under KKR's ownership, the Spreads business with its iconic brands will be able to fulfil its full potential as well as societal responsibilities.”

Unilever Spreads ceo Nicolas Liabeuf will continue to lead the business, which included the brands Flora and ProActiv. “There is a positive momentum in the performance of the Spreads business and we are excited about continuing this journey with KKR,” ​said Liabeuf.

“We are confident that our business and the entrepreneurial spirit of our people will thrive further under new ownership."

‘Entrepreneurial spirit of our people’

KKR Europe, Middle East and Africa head Johannes Huth said the strength of the portfolio of consumer brands in Spreads provided a firm foundation for future growth.

“We look forward to deploying our global network and operational expertise to support the business's growth ambitions, while continuing to follow Unilever's responsible sourcing policies, including working towards the goal of sourcing 100% sustainable palm oil by 2019,” ​said Huth.

Expected to be completed by June 2018, the sale follows a review of the business, initiated in April, after a failed takeover bid from Kraft. Unilever rejected the bid because it saw “no merit, either finanical or strategic"​, ​for its shareholders.

In addition to food brands, such as Hellman's mayonnaise, Bertolli and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, Unilever owns household cleaning brands, including Domestos, Dove and Persil. Unilever operates in nearly 200 countries worldwide.

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