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Sara Lee completes sale to Grupo Bimbo

Updated: November 7, 2011 2:54PM

Downers Grove-based Sara Lee Corp. has completed the sale of its North American fresh bakery business to Grupo Bimbo S.A.B. for $709 million, the food maker said Monday.

Sara Lee and the Mexican bakery giant announced the deal last year. The two companies reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice in October to move the deal forward, agreeing to sell off rights in some markets to eliminate anti-competition concerns.

Grupo Bimbo is the largest and Sara Lee the third-largest maker of sliced fresh bread in the U.S.

Sara Lee has been selling parts of its business as it prepares to split its business into two publicly traded companies.

The company is also selling its fresh bakery businesses in Spain and Portugal to Grupo Bimbo for 115 million euros ($158.3 million), in a deal announced last month. That acquisition is expected to close by the end of the calendar year.

Sara Lee has been trimming its business slowly for years, selling off its household, beauty products and shoe care divisions to focus on food and beverages.

It is now in the process of splitting its company into two publicly traded companies, which should be complete in the first half of next year. One company will be focused on North American meat brands such as Jimmy Dean and Hillshire Farm, and the other on international beverages with brands such as Pickwick and Maison du Cafe.

Shares of Sara Lee, which makes products such as Ball Park hot dogs and Senseo coffee, fell 7 cents to $18.45 in afternoon trading.

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