Unilever picks Morgan Stanley and Goldman to sell spreads business, say sources: Reuters

Anglo-Dutch consumer group Unilever (ULVR.L) has decided to work with Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs on the sale of its margarine and spreads business, which was announced last week, sources told Reuters on Thursday.

The sale, which could fetch as much as 6 billion pounds ($7.52 billion), is expected to kick off later this year, the sources said, following a far-reaching review of Unilever’s business prompted by February’s unsolicited $143 billion takeover offer from Kraft Heinz (KHC.O).

Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs are mainly targeting private equity bidders which could team up in large consortia to finance the bid, said the sources, who declined to be identified as the process is private.

Unilever and Morgan Stanley declined to comment while Goldman Sachs was not immediately available to comment.

Goldman and Morgan Stanley have both worked with Unilever on deals in the past. Morgan Stanley worked on Unilever’s defense against Kraft.

Unilever said last week that it planned to sell the spreads business by year-end, but would also prepare it for a spin-off if a sale could not be completed.