UNILEVER will sell or demerge its spreads business, including the Flora and Stork brands, as part of a wider shakeup after rejecting a US$139bn takeover bid from Kraft Heinz.
The company has been reviewing its business and announced a series of changes to ease shareholder pressure. Unilever’s commitment to corporate social responsibility and the environment, even if it comes at the cost of profits, makes it a target for rivals who would maximise shareholder return.
The BBC reports that Unilever CEO Paul Polman said: “the events of the last few weeks have pointed out that we have opportunities to drive further value in the business”.
The sale of the spreads unit would raise between €6bn–7bn (US$6.4bn-7.5bn), according to analysts. In developed markets the market share for spreads is under pressure from consumer preferences for natural products, including butter.
Other measures announced in the review include lifting margins and raising dividends for shareholders.
Unilever is also investigating options for simplifying its corporate structure, which could see the Anglo-Dutch company delist from either the UK or Netherlands stock exchanges. It expects to make a decision by the end of the year.
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