SÃO PAULO, Brazil – Rumors about JBS SA playing a role in acquiring the meat businesses of Sara Lee Corp. have moved from the back to the front burner. Although both companies continue no to address the rumors circulating throughout industry, a Jan. 20 Reuters story states an unidentified source “with direct knowledge of the situation” claimed a group of companies headed up by JBS SA has arranged a financing package to bid for all or parts of Sara Lee Corp.

Commitments from international banks have been secured by JBS for loans and could tap equity markets to complete the funding package, the source added.

Valued by analysts at about $12.5 billion, Sara Lee Corp., has been looking into various options, such as selling itself or splitting itself up into meat and beverage units, according to past media accounts.

Another unidentified source has told Reuters the Sara Lee board is expected to approve a plan to split the company at a meeting by the end of January unless a compelling takeover bid emerges.

Sara Lee's board is expected to meet on Jan. 21 and pick a bidder to continue talks. Any decision to continue the talks hinges primarily on the price per share that Sara Lee asks, the first source said.

Sources familiar with the matter previously told Reuters the JBS-led group and a group of buyout firms led by Apollo Global Management [APOLO.UL], have shown interest in Sara Lee. Meanwhile, he third source claims the private equity consortium, made up of Apollo, Bain Capital and TPG Capital [TPG.UL], remains in the process.

Sources have pointed out integrating JBS's US unit and Sara Lee's coffee and meat processing business could create value by providing products for JBS's cattle, pork and poultry trimmings. Plus, such an acquisition would make JBS a major player in processed foods.