Packaged-food company Sara Lee Corp. has received a takeover bid from a private-equity group led by Apollo Global Management, according to a news report.
The company, based in Downers Grove, Ill., has been seen as a takeover target for months as it sold off non-food businesses and failed to name a permanent replacement for Brenda Barnes, its former CEO, who stepped down last summer to recover from a stroke.
Sara Lee did not receive an expected offer from Brazilian beef processor JBS SA, the world's largest beef company, the report said.
Reuters reported the bid on Saturday. It said Bain Capital and TPG Capital also were part of the Apollo bid. It said preliminary bids on Sara Lee were due on Friday.
A Sara Lee spokesman said in an e-mail that the company does not comment on "marketplace rumor or speculation." An Apollo representative declined to comment. JBS did not respond to a request for comment Sunday.
Sara Lee has been focusing on its more-profitable businesses, such as Hillshire Farms meats, Senseo coffee, frozen desserts and deli meats. It has sold or is selling non-food businesses that make air fresheners, insecticides and body care products.
This fall it sold its struggling North American bread-making business to the Mexican baking giant Grupo Bimbo for $959 million.
If there are no attractive takeover bids, Sara Lee might split its food and beverage divisions into separate companies, Reuters said.
Sara Lee could fetch as much as $23 a share, or $14.7 billion, Reuters said. Shares of Sara Lee closed Friday at $18.70.
Barnes became CEO in 2005 and led the effort to sell off Sara Lee's non-food businesses.