Last Updated Sep 28, 2009 4:02 PM EDT
Now Sara Lee just needs to sell off its household products business, including its air fresheners and shoe polish brands. The company says it's seen "significant interest" from potential buyers, but analysts have noted that household goods have not been doing so well in the current economy.
On the other side, even as Sara Lee strives to get leaner and meaner, Unilever is trying to grow. The company has been in acquisitions mode since Paul Polman stepped in as CEO in January. Sara Lee is Unilever's biggest purchase in nine years; before hiring Polman, the company was moving in the opposite direction and getting rid of brands.
The Sara Lee purchase brings more 'value' brands into Unilever's portfolio; as Unilever UK chairman Dave Lewis put it, "It allows us to play across the price piano." Polman employed similar strategies during the 27 years he spent with Unilever rival Procter & Gamble.