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October 1, 2019

Unilever says “several parties” interested in Continental Foods assets

Unilever has confirmed it has started a strategic review of its Continental Foods business in Australia and New Zealand.

By Dean Best

Unilever has confirmed it has started a strategic review of its Continental Foods business in Australia and New Zealand with a sale one option on the table for which “several parties” have indicated an interest.

The Australian Financial Review had reported US-based private-equity firm KKR, which completed a deal for the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant’s international spreads business last year, had drawn up a non-binding offer for the Continental Foods operations. However, a spokesperson for the investor declined to comment when contacted by just-food.

The Continental Foods portfolio includes soups, sauces, stocks and, according to Unilever, is a profitable business. 

Unilever, the owner of brands such as Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Hellmann’s mayonnaise, said it had hired Swiss investment bank UBS to assist in the review, suggesting a sale of Continental Foods could be on the cards.

The statement said: “The review will consider the best options to unlock the full potential of the profitable business and its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility at Tatura, near Shepparton in Victoria [Australia]. One possible result of the review is a change of ownership – but no decisions have been made.  

“Several parties have expressed interest in the Continental brand, reflecting recognition of the quality and potential of the business. Beyond this we are not able to comment further on the process.”

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