Sara Lee Completes Its Split

Sara Lee Corp. split into two companies on June 28. Its mostly North American meat operations were renamed Hillshire Brands Co. (with a New York Stock Exchange listing of HSH), and its mostly international coffee and tea business emerging as D.E Master Blenders 1753 N.V., based in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

In a reverse stock split, each Sara Lee shareholder got one share of Hillshire stock for five shares of Sara Lee stock. They also received one share of D.E Master Blenders stock and a $3 per share special dividend.

"Our goal is to be the most innovative meat-centric food company in the U.S.," said Sean Connolly, CEO of Hillshire Brands. The web address is now www.hillshirebrands.com.

"The completion of the D.E Master Blenders 1753 spin-off is a significant milestone for shareholders and employees, as it creates two pure-play companies that will pursue success independently," said Jan Bennink, former executive chairman of Sara Lee Corp. and chairman of the new European coffee company.

Hillshire Brands should generate nearly $4 billion in annual sales in the retail and foodservice markets. The company and has approximately 8,500 employees and brands such as Jimmy Dean, Ball Park, Hillshire Farm, State Fair, Sara Lee frozen bakery and Chef Pierre pies. Sara Lee sold off its fresh bakery division two years ago to Bimbo Bakeries USA and its refrigerated dough business to Ralcorp one year ago.

As of this writing, the American company remains in suburban Downers Grove, Ill., although local media reports say the company has been shopping for a headquarters in downtown Chicago, where Sara Lee once was headquartered.

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