Unilever has acquired a controlling interest in the leading Ecuadorian detergents, personal products and foods company, Corporacion Jaboneria Nacional (CJN), for an undisclosed sum.

CJN was founded in 1911 and is based in Guayaquil, Ecuador. It has strong market positions in detergents, toilet soaps, skin creams, dental care, margarine and edible oils and has sales of approximately $100 million. For more than 40 years, Unilever and CJN have had an agreement under which Unilever has provided technical knowledge and has licensed its brands. This relationship was strengthened in 1994 with a strategic alliance.

Unilever's brands of Omo, Dove, Lux, Pond's, Vasenol, Rexona, Axe and Close-Up already have a significant presence in the Ecuadorian market. CJN also has strong local brands such as Deja (detergents), Logarto (soaps and cleaners) and La Favorita (foods).

In 1996 Unilever acquired the Pinguino ice cream business and with this acquisition, Unilever is now present in Ecuador in all of its corporate categories.

The acquisition of CJN represents a further critical step to strengthen Unilever's position in corporate categories in North Latin America. It follows the acquisitions, over the past two years, of Sociedad Industrial Dominicana (home and personal care products) in the Dominican Republic, of Cressida (laundry, soaps foods, beverages) in Central America and of a controlling interest in Varela (laundry and toilet soaps) in Colombia.

Furthermore this investment emphasises Unilever's commitment to grow its presence in Latin America as a whole, where its sales in 1999 totalled 4.82 billion euros with an operating profit of 466 million euros.

UNILEVER BACKGROUND: Unilever is one of the world's largest consumer products companies with sales in excess of $45 billion. It produces and markets a wide range of foods, home and personal care products. Unilever operates in 88 countries around the globe and employs 255,000 people.

In the United States, Unilever sales exceeded $8 billion in 1999. It employs 22,000 people and has 72 offices and manufacturing sites in 24 states. Two of Unilever's 12 global Business Groups are headquartered in the United States. Some of their major products are: Foods - North America: Lipton teas, soups, recipe products and side dishes; Wish-Bone salad dressings; Lawry's seasonings and specialty sauces; Imperial, Promise, Country Crock, "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!", Brummel & Brown spreads and sprays; Ragu pasta and pizza sauces; Five Brothers premium pasta sauces; Klondike, Good-Humor, Popsicle, Breyers and Ben & Jerry's ice cream products, Gorton's frozen seafood products and Slim-Fast nutritional and health snack products. Unilever Home and Personal Care - North America: Wisk, "all" and Surf laundry detergents; Snuggle and Final Touch fabric softeners; Sunlight dish detergents; Lever 2000, Caress, Dove and Shield bar soaps; Pond's and Vaseline skin care products; Q-tips cotton swabs and cotton balls; Mentadent, Aim, Close-up and Pepsodent oral care products; Degree, Suave and Brut deodorant/toiletry products; Finesse, Salon Selectives, Suave, ThermaSilk, Aqua Net and Rave hair care products; and Calvin Klein and Elizabeth Arden cosmetic and fragrance products. In addition, DiverseyLever, a global professional cleaning business, operates in North America, supplying professional cleaning materials and services to institutional and industrial markets.