Unilever sells North American laundry business to Vestar

Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch manufacturer of food, household cleaning and personal care products, has agreed to sell its North American laundry business in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico to US private equity firm Vestar Capital Partners.

The businesses being sold generated US$1bn in turnover for Unilever in 2007 and include the all, Snuggle, Wisk, Surf and Sunlight fabric cleaning and conditioning brands in North America.

Vestar will merge the business with Huish Detergents, which it acquired in April 2007 and which is the second largest producer of household detergents in the US after Procter & Gamble.

Huish produces branded household cleaning products under its Sun label, and Vestar will form a new company for the merged businesses called the Sun Products Corporation.

The consideration consists of a cash payment of US$1.075bn plus US$375m of preferred shares in Sun Products and warrants for the acquisition of up to 2.5% of Sun Products common stock.

Patrick Cescau, Unilever’s chief executive officer, said: “Laundry remains an important category for Unilever outside North America. This transaction will allow us to focus our resources on our leading positions in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America, where we continue to drive for expanded leadership.”