The review led to reports that Unilever could off-load some of its underperforming businesses - including Flora, Stork and Bertolli - when it publishes its findings next month.
The Sunday Telegraph, citing sources, said that private equity firms Bain Capital, CVC, and Clayton Dubilier and Rice have started working on offers for Unilever's non-core margarine division, whick includes the two brands. Kraft Heinz, which is backed by billionaire Warren Buffett and Brazil's 3G Capital, is also tipped as a possible buyer. The move comes in the wake of the company rejecting an unsolicited takeover bid for $143 billion from Kraft Heinz Co (NASDAQ:KHC). "Unilever does not see the basis for any further discussions".
In mid-February, Kraft Heinz, which had offered USD143 billion in cash and stock to buy Unilever, said it amicably agreed to withdraw its proposal for a combination of the two companies. It said the union was concerned that Unilever would rely on counter-productive cost-cutting schemes to increase the manfuacturer's value.
But the takeover bid had unnerved Unilever and the CEO of Paul Polman urged the British government to make changes to the takeover codes on corporate deals in order to protect iconic British companies from falling to the hands of overseas corporate raiders.
Unilever owns an array of brands from food and beverages (including Becel and Lipton tea) to home and personal care (including Vaseline and Axe).