Rumors persist on Sara Lee's future

by Bryan Salvage
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DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. – The new year for Sara Lee Corp. is starting out like the old year ended – rumors are swirling about the company’s future and reports now being published claim the company plans to split its meat and coffee businesses into two separate companies. So published The Wall Street Journal and other media outlets on Jan. 6.

Last month, Sara Lee reportedly nixed a takeover bid from JBS SA. JBS could sweeten its offer, but it might have trouble securing financing, WSJ said.

Sara Lee has long been a US meat powerhouse with brands including Jimmy Dean, Hillshire Farm and Ballpark. Sara Lee's meats business most recently had $346 million in income from continuing operations on $2.82 billion in sales.

The Associated Press points out Sara Lee has been selling off its business lines to focus on its food and beverage business. It added that Sara Lee is often speculated to be an acquisition target as it trims its tertiary businesses and has failed to name a permanent replacement for Brenda Barnes, its former CEO, who stepped down last summer to recover from a stroke.

MEATPOULTRY.com contacted Sara Lee on Jan. 7 hoping it could shed some light on these persisting rumors, but was told by a company spokesman, “We aren't commenting on the rumor and speculation in the marketplace."

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