Chillin' out till it needs to be funded
Sara Lee did sell its air purifiers division and some other businesses in household and personal care but at that time KKR and Blackstone had been expressly put on a disapproved list. Now KKR is back with one of the best offers for Sara Lee
KKR approached Sara Lee with an acquisition offer after Chief Executive Brenda Barnes stepped down earlier this year, but the company rejected the overture, according to people familiar with the matter.
The board could even decide to put the entire company up for sale, in response to recent inquires from a few private-equity firms, including KKR, that are exploring the idea of taking Sara Lee private, these people said. However, they cautioned that a sale of the entire company would be “pretty dramatic” and therefore an unlikely move. Buyout firms are sitting on some $500 billion of cash and seeking opportunities to invest it. KKR was also interested in Sara Lee’s bread business, these people said.
In August, the Downers Grove, Ill., company announced the departure of Barnes for medical reasons and launched a search for a new leader. Barnes had sold off many of the company’s operations, launching a string of transactions over the last few years that helped turn Sara Lee into a more focused food company.
Among other deals, Sara Lee sold its direct selling cosmetics operations to Tupperware. Last year it began looking into selling its international household and body care businesses, and went on to find buyers like Procter & Gamble Co. for bits and pieces of that stable of brands. More recently Sara Lee has felt pressure from heavy price competition in grocery stores.