Sara Lee Sells More Bakery Businesses

NEW YORK (AP) — Sara Lee Corp. said Monday that it is selling its fresh bakery businesses in Spain and Portugal for 115 million euros ($156.5 million) to Grupo Bimbo, the Mexican baking company that is buying its North American fresh bakery division. It's the food company's latest step to slim down its business.

NEW YORK (AP) — Sara Lee Corp. said Monday that it is selling its fresh bakery businesses in Spain and Portugal for 115 million euros ($156.5 million) to Grupo Bimbo, the Mexican baking company that is buying its North American fresh bakery division. It's the food company's latest step to slim down its business.

Sara Lee has been shrinking over the past decade, selling units like its household and body care and shoe care divisions to focus on food and beverages. It is planning to split into two public companies in the first half of the year, one focused on North American meat brands such as Jimmy Dean and Hillshire Farm, and the other an international beverage business with brands such as Pickwick and Maison du Cafe.

"Divesting the bakery businesses allows Sara Lee's international portfolio to become simpler and more focused on coffee and tea, the categories around which we are building a leading pure-play international company," Executive Chairman Jan Bennink said in a statement.

The Downers Grove, Ill., company was already planning to sell its North American fresh bakery business to Grupo Bimbo for $959 million. The sale is expected to close in the coming weeks.

Sara Lee said Monday that its latest deal includes all Sara Lee fresh bakery brands in Spain and Portugal as well as seven manufacturing plants. The sale is expected to close within 60 days.

The company also said that its remaining international bakery businesses in France and Australia, which sell products mostly in France, Sweden, Italy, Australia and New Zealand, may still be sold.

Sara Lee shares rose 28 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $16.73 in morning trading.

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