Sara Lee Corp. is splitting into two public companies, one focused on meat and foodservice; the other on coffee and baked goods.

Sara Lee Corp. says it will divide itself into two publicly traded companies. The plan, which was approved by Sara Lee’s board, divides the company into North American and European divisions. Its retail and foodservice unit will retain the Sara Lee name and will include brands, such asJimmy Dean, Ball Park, Hillshire Farmand others. The other unit, which has yet to be named, will include its international beverage business and coffee-related brandsDouwe Egberts, Senseo, Pickwick, Maison du Café, L'OR,Café Pilão, MarcillaandBimbo, and its international bakery business, which produces bread. The company will have an estimated $4.6 billion in annual revenue.

The Downers Grove, Ill.-based company says that the split is the next logical step after selling its international household and body care business and agreeing to sell its North American fresh bakery business. Sara Lee has been selling off its business lines for several years to focus on the core food and beverage business.

In addition, the company named Marcel Smits permanent chief executive officer. He had been serving as interim CEO since Brenda Barnes left May 2010. Jan Bennink will serve as executive chairman, effective immediately, responsible for leading and implementing the spin-off. Crown will stay on as a board member and lead independent director.

The separation is expected to be complete by the end of the calendar year or early 2012.

Source:, Chicago Tribune