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Unilever Plc is weighing the sale of a portfolio of US ice cream brands that could be valued at as much as $3 billion, people familiar with the matter said. 

The UK consumer giant is working with advisers to review local brands such as Klondike and Breyers that may be considered for divestment, according to the people. International labels Magnum and Ben & Jerry’s are not part of the review, they said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information.

Deliberations are ongoing and Unilever may still decide against selling, the people said. A representative for Unilever declined to comment.

London-listed Unilever is the world’s biggest ice cream maker. But the company’s Chief Executive Officer Alan Jope has been under pressure to prove the sugary treat can continue to thrive within a company that’s focusing on improving the nutritional value of its products.

Jope plans to retire at the end of next year following a tumultuous period in which Unilever botched a £50 billion ($61 billion) attempt to buy GSK Plc’s consumer health unit and irked investors with lackluster growth. Activist investor Nelson Peltz revealed a stake in Unilever earlier this year, piling further pressure on the company to accelerate a revamp.

On an investor day on Thursday, the outgoing boss ruled out transformative M&A and raised the prospect of smaller disposals. Speaking of brands with revenues below 1 billion euros ($1 billion), he said:

“In some cases we’ll prune them from the portfolio where that makes sense. Others, may play a role in an important local portfolio," he said. 

Fine tuning 

Jope has previously indicated that Unilever will look to divest certain underperforming businesses, but has ruled out a sale of the Vermont-based Ben & Jerry’s flagship — popular for quirkily-named flavors including Chunky Monkey and Cherry Garcia.

Unilever’s local ice cream brands are often produced at the same sites as its international ones, potentially complicating a sales process. Any partial disposal would also leave Jope’s eventual successor with a decision of whether to stick with the remainder of the ice cream business. 

Ben & Jerry’s caused some problems for Unilever earlier this year, when the ice cream maker’s independent board criticized its parent company’s decision to allow sales under the brand in West Bank settlements via a third party.

 

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