Sara Lee reportedly will pursue a breakup

The Downers Grove, Illinois-based food giant will likely split up its coffee and meat businesses, news reports say.

January 27, 2011

By Ashley Gross

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Sara Lee reportedly will split up its business instead of selling the whole company.

The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times say Sara Lee is heading for a breakup after deciding that buyout bids came in too low. Neither paper is citing its sources, and a Sara Lee spokeswoman declined to comment.

Morningstar analyst Erin Swanson says the Brazilian meat company JBS may be having trouble coming up with enough financing to meet the price Sara Lee wants.

"JBS has made I want to say between 15 and 20 acquisitions in the last several years and they have a significant amount of debt on their balance sheet as a result of these acquisitions, and so I think that that is one of the things that I think could be holding JBS back," Swanson said.

Another bid reportedly came from a group led by a private-equity firm called Apollo Global Management. Swanson says she thinks it’s still possible Sara Lee will get a higher offer and sell the company after all.