Australia's largest food group Burns, Philp & Co has said it has put its North American herbs and spices unit, Tones, up for sale.

The company said that it had received expressions of interest from parties interested in the acquisition of Tones, and had therefore appointed Credit Suisse First Boston to advance the sale of the division. The company added that it expects to complete a sale of the unit by June 2004.

The company said that under its financing arrangements, 25% of the net proceeds of the sale would go towards reducing the group's senior debt. Burns Philp had total debt of A$2.6bn (US$1.95bn) at the end of 2003 due to its recent acquisition of Australian food maker Goodman Fielder, reported Reuters.

Tones is the second-largest manufacturer of herbs and spices in North America after McCormick & Co.