Unilever is reportedly exploring the potential sale of some US ice-cream brands.
The FMCG giant is weighing the sale of a portfolio of ice-cream brands such as Klondike and Breyers and is working with advisors, according to Bloomberg, which cited people familiar with the matter who asked not to be named.
The brands being considered for sale could be valued at US$3bn, the US-headquartered news agency’s sources said.
Unilever’s global ice-cream brands such as Magnum and Ben & Jerry’s are not part of the deliberations, Bloomberg added.
Contacted by Just Food today (8 December) Unilever said “we’re not commenting”.
Potential asset disposals have been the subject of some debate since Unilever reorganised its business divisions in January, with ice cream spun off into a standalone arm outside of food and refreshments. Long-time CEO Alan Jope is set to leave the company at the end of 2023, in what would be five years heading up the food and personal-care products manufacturer.
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Two weeks ago at a Unilever event in the UK, Matt Close, the global president of the separate ice-cream unit, said there was “no reason to believe” a sale of the division could be on the horizon.
“I know there’s lots of rumours out in the market and we created our own rumour when the when we made the GSK bid as well,” Close told journalists during a trip to a company R&D facility near Bedford in southern England.
“But the ice cream business is a big global business and actually if you look at single-category positions, ice cream is our biggest… Unilever loves scale. It loves businesses that can drive value creation and it loves businesses that can really underpin our compass and sustainability commitments.”
Unilever’s global ice-cream assets brought in a turnover of EUR6.9bn (US$7.13bn) in 2021.
Back in January, Jope had hinted at potential divestments but in the context of the food and refreshment division.
“The primary criteria for disposals would be the long-term, intrinsic growth rate of the business,” he said at the time. “We have an excellent foods and refreshment business with global, leading positions. You will have noticed that it’s performed well during the pandemic but it is true that foods and refreshment’s long-term growth profile has been below other parts of the portfolio.”
Meanwhile, Unilever sold its Ben & Jerry’s business in Israel earlier this year after a spat with the ice-cream maker’s founders.
Yesterday, one of the largest US ice-cream manufacturers, Wells Enterprises, was sold to confectionery giant Ferrero for an undisclosed sum.