Sara Lee weighs sale to Brazil’s JBS: report

NEW YORK (BestGrowthStock) – Sara Lee Corp (SLE.N: ) is considering selling itself to Brazilian meat producer JBS (JBSS3.SA: ), the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, citing sources familiar with the situation.

Based on Sara Lee’s stock closing price of $17.26 on Friday, the company has a market capitalization of $11 billion. The stock rose 5.3 percent on Friday, and fell 0.4 percent in after-hours trading.

JBS, the world’s largest beef producer, approached Sara Lee, and discussions between the companies have been on and off over several months, The Wall Street Journal reported on its website. Sara Lee has been considering JBS’ offer more seriously lately, according to the Journal.

A Sara Lee spokesman said the company “does not comment on rumors or speculation.” JBS also declined comment.

No decision has been made, and Sara Lee may decide not to sell itself, the newspaper reported, citing the unnamed sources.

Sara Lee is also considering whether to break up its meats and beverages businesses and put them up for sale, according to The Wall Street Journal’s report.

The future of Sara Lee, whose brands include Jimmy Dean sausages and Senseo coffee, was called into question by the November announcement of a sale of its North American bakery business to Mexico’s Grupo Bimbo (BIMBOA.MX: ) for $925 million.

Analysts have pointed out that the company’s new focuses, North American meats and European coffee, have little overlap.

Morningstar analyst Erin Swanson called Sara Lee “a viable takeover candidate”.

Private equity firm Apollo Global Management approached Sara Lee during the summer about a deal, a source told Reuters in October, after a report that Sara Lee had rebuffed an unsolicited offer that could have been worth $12 billion from KKR (KKR.N: ).

Sara Lee also has been functioning with an interim chief executive since August when Brenda Barnes quit after suffering a stroke.

Interim CEO Marcel Smits and Christopher J. (CJ) Fraleigh, head of Sara Lee’s North American retail and food service business, are widely seen as candidates for the top job.

JBS is the majority owner of U.S. chicken producer Pilgrim’s Pride Corp (PPC.N: ). Earlier this year, Brazilian publication Valor Economico reported that the company was looking for acquisitions to stay ahead of a spree of takeovers by rival Marfrig.

(Additional reporting by Bob Burgdorfer in Chicago, Phil Wahba in New York and Jessica Hall in Philadelphia; Editing by Richard Chang and Robert MacMillan)

Sara Lee weighs sale to Brazil’s JBS: report