Unilever to buy Sara Lee unit

London: Unilever, the maker of Dove soap, agreed to buy Sara Lee’s personal-care and European detergent unit for €1.28 billion, gaining Sanex shower gel in its biggest purchase in nine years.

Unilever, based in London and Rotterdam, will pay cash for the business, which makes Duschdas and Radox soap and had sales of more than €750 million for the year ending June 2009, according to a statement.

Sara Lee, which has been shedding units to focus on coffee and food, said the proceeds would help it buy back as much as $1 billion (€687m) in stock.

The purchase is the largest by chief executive Paul Polman since he took the reins at Unilever at the start of the year. He focused the company on winning back cash-strapped shoppers and boosting sales volumes by cutting prices, and was rewarded as the company unexpectedly posted volume growth in western Europe in the second quarter.


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