Sara Lee splitting in two

January 28, 2011

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Downers Grove-based Sara Lee Corporation has officially announced it will split into two companies.

The company had been in flux since CEO Brenda Barnes stepped down last summer for health reasons. Current Sara Lee CEO Marcel Smits responded to rumors of potential acquisition saying the company had received unsolicited interest to buy the company, but decided on the split instead.

He says it's the next logical step after selling Sara Lee's international household and body care business.

"We concluded that our two main businesses have greater opportunities to prosper and deliver significant values to shareholders as separate entities," Smits said.

One entity will retain the Sara Lee name and focus on North American retail and food service including brands like Ball Park and Hillshire Farm.

The other company will take up European coffee, tea and baked goods. It has yet to be named and could possibly be re-located to Europe.

The plan must meet board approval.