Sara Lee Attracts Buyout Interest from Apollo-Led Group, JBS

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Sara Lee may soon find itself entertaining competing bids from an investor group led by Apollo Global Management and C. Dean Metropoulos and from Brazilian meat-processing company JBS SA.

The prospect of a bidding war is juicing up Sara Lee's (SLE) share price to a new 52-week high in early trading Monday. Shares rose 3.2% to $18.00; the company's previous 52-week high was $17.72.

Apollo and Metropoulos have lined up support from Bain Capital and TPG Capital to explore a potential acquisition of Sara Lee, according to a Wall Street Journalreport. Meanwhile, JBS is weighing another approach after Sara Lee last month rejected its bid of $17.50 a share as too low, says a Bloomberg report.

Apollo's investment group reportedly met with Sara Lee management in recent weeks, once again approaching the company about a potential deal. Last year, Apollo expressed interest in the diverse company that includes numerous lines from bakery goods to detergents but was rebuffed.

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That was the same reaction JBS received last month, when Sara Lee rejected its $11 billion buyout offer. According to Bloomberg, Sara Lee may be holding out for a $13 billion deal, or $20 a share.

Later this month, Sara Lee's board plans to meet to consider the merits of possible separating its core businesses to make them more affordable to purchase. Currently, the company is moving forward in creating two distinct companies with its meat and coffee business, according to the Journal.

Sara Lee has been paring down its holdings over the past year. In November, it sold its bakery business to Grupo Bimbo for $959 million. And in the same month, Unilever (UL) won regulatory approval to buy its shower gel and detergents business.
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