The Star Late Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT -

Af­ter fend­ing off the bid in Fe­bru­ary, chief ex­ec­u­tive Paul Pol­man said the com­pany will de­liver on prom­ises to in­crease share­holder re­turns via buy­backs and lift prof­itabil­ity goals. Unilever has grap­pled with lower con­sumer prices in Europe and a slow­down in emerg­ing mar­kets such as China and In­dia that ac­count Growth in un­der­ly­ing sales in the first quar­ter for about 60 per­cent of sales. In­dia and China are turn­ing a cor­ner and a mar­ket con­trac­tion in Brazil is mod­er­at­ing, Pitkethly said.

The com­pany plans to di­vest its spreads unit, which in­cludes the Flora brand, in a process that could fetch an en­ter­prise value of around

6.6 bil­lion (R94.07bn), ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey of an­a­lysts who cover the stock.

The com­pany did not pro­vide any im­me­di­ate up­date on the sales process.

Unilever said it’s on track for full-year un­der­ly­ing sales growth in a range of 3 per­cent to 5 per­cent.

Un­der­ly­ing ac­qui­si­tions, and cur­rency Bloomberg sales ex­clude di­vest­ments fluc­tu­a­tions. –

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