Anglo-Dutch consumer goods behemoth Unilever intends to sell its international specialty oils and fats business, Loders Croklaan Group, as part of its "Path to Growth" strategy of focusing on core activities.

Loders Croklaan has factories in Wormerveer, near Amsterdam, and in Channahon, near Chicago, with smaller plants in Toronto and Cairo and sales offices in a further seven countries. The business employs some 600 people and in 2001 had sales of about US$240m. Employee representatives are being consulted about the proposed sale. Customers and suppliers will be kept informed.

Loders Croklaan is a self-standing business that has traditionally supplied the confectionery and bakery industries worldwide, but it also has a division focused on supplying nutritional oils and fats to manufacturers.

In a press release, Unilever said that it believes that the business' future would be best served by a new parent company able to focus on the development of its full potential.

Unilever has engaged Deutsche Bank to assist with the sale process, and said that further announcements will be made as appropriate.