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Sara Lee To Buy Brazilian Coffee Company

Mon, 11/29/2010 - 3:29am

DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. (AP) — Sara Lee Corp. is buying Brazilian coffee company Cafe Damasco for nearly $60 million as it continues to focus on its more-profitable coffee and meat businesses.

Earlier this month Sara Lee said it was selling its struggling North American bread-making business to Mexican baking giant Grupo Bimbo for $959 million. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2011.

When Sara Lee announced the sale, it said the transaction freed it to focus on its meats business, which includes Hillshire Farm, Ball Park, Jimmy Dean brands, and its coffee lines, such as Senseo. The food company, based in Downers Grove, Ill., also said at the time that it would be able to expand through acquisitions, although it would not discuss potential targets.

The purchase of Café Damasco gives Sara Lee a stronger presence in Brazil, particularly in the south where the coffee company has a strong market position, Frank van Oers, CEO of Sara Lee's international beverage and bakery business, said in a statement.

Sara Lee already has the Pilao and Caboclo coffee brands in the central regions of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Its other Brazilian coffee brands include Cafe do Ponto, Moka, and Seleto.

The acquisition is expected to close on Tuesday.

Sara Lee has made a series of deals to trim its business. It sold its Ambi Pure air freshener business to Procter & Gamble Co. and its stake in a joint venture in India that makes insecticides. It also has agreed to sell its body care business to Unilever NV and its remaining insecticide business to SC Johnson. Sara Lee said earlier this month that it is still negotiating to sell some smaller remaining businesses, which include shoe care and its Asia-Pacific cleaning products business.

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