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Unilever sells US Ragu sauces for US$2.15b

Dutch giant Unilever announced on Thursday the sale of its North American Ragu and Bertolli pasta sauce businesses to a Japanese group for $2.15 billion (1.57 billion euros) as it focuses on higher margin beauty products.

THE HAGUE: Dutch giant Unilever announced on Thursday the sale of its North American Ragu and Bertolli pasta sauce businesses to a Japanese group for $2.15 billion (1.57 billion euros) as it focuses on higher margin beauty products.

Japan's Mizkan Group bought the businesses, which have an annual turnover of more than $600 million, and include two production facilities in Kentucky and California, Unilever said in a statement.

"This sale represents one of the final steps in reshaping our portfolio in North America to deliver sustainable growth for Unilever," said Unilever North America boss Kees Kruythoff.

Analysts said that the sauce sale was part of Unilever's global strategy to focus more on cosmetics, which have a higher profit margin, rather than food, with which it has become difficult to make gains in the competitive Indian and Chinese markets.

Unilever sales of personal care products rose by 7.3 percent in 2013, compared to just 0.3 percent for food sales during the same period.

The sale is expected to be finalised by the end of June.

Founded in 1930, Unilever is one of the world's leading suppliers of consumer goods and owns a variety of brands such as Lipton Yellow Label tea, Magnum ice cream, Knorr, Omo washing powder, Vaseline and Dove.

It employs over 173,000 people worldwide.

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