Sara Lee (SLE) has been very busy recently putting the finishing touches on the upcoming spinoff of its international coffee and tea business, D.E. Master Blenders International 1753. While it was not a surprise decision, the company’s board of directors recently formally approved the spinoff clearing another hurdle to completion. The transaction is a bit more complicated than usual and includes numerous ‘steps’ which we detailed in an earlier post on the subject. To briefly summarize, the coffee company will be spun out and subsequently pay a $3 special dividend to its shareholders. The company will then merge with DE Master Blenders 1753 NV and shareholders of SLE will end up with one share of DE Master Blenders for every share of SLE owned.
The action isn’t solely reserved for the spinco though as the parent company will execute a 1 for 5 reverse stock split immediately post-spin. The parent company, which will mainly focus on meat products and foodservice operations, also announced that it is changing its name to the Hillshire Brands Company. As if it needed an explanation, the company noted that “the Hillshire name was inspired by its Hillshire Farm brand,” and reflects the meat-centric focus of the new company. Very insightful. In fact, Hillshire is just one of several well known meat product brands in the company’s portfolio which also includes Jimmy Dean and Ballpark. The company has seen some weakness in the area recently and the company is hoping the new branding focus can help reverse the slump. Sara Lee will not be disappearing entirely though as the foodservice division will retain the name, but many are questioning the abandonment of such a well known brand name.
Finally, the company also revealed the board of director lineups for the two companies. Jan Bennink, Sara Lee’s executive chairman, will become non-executive chairman of DE Master Blenders while Christopher Begley will become non-executive chairman of Hillshire.
The spin is expected to occur on June 28th and Hillshire will trade on the NYSE under the ticker HSH. DE Master Blenders will trade under the ticker ‘DE’ on the NYSE Euronext Amsterdam exchange. For additional information on the subject, see our earlier articles here.
Disclosure: Author holds no position in any stock mentioned.