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Unilever Completes $1.6 Billion Sale Of DiverseyLever Cleaning Business

May 7, 2002
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NEW YORK -- Unilever NV has completed the sale of its DiverseyLever institutional- and industrial-cleaning business to privately held Johnson Wax Professional for about $1.6 billion.

The Anglo-Dutch consumer-goods giant said Monday it has received $1.02 billion in cash, a loan note of about $279 million and a one-third equity stake in the combined business valued at about $300 million. The deal was announced in November.

The agreement provides for Unilever's exit from the combined business after five years. The operations are expected to have annual sales of $2.6 billion.

Unilever said the sale of DiverseyLever is in line with its "Path to Growth" strategy that targets annual sustained sales growth of 5% to 6%. In November, Unilever said the $1 billion in cash would contribute to its planned debt reduction. The company also said the deal represents a further step toward focusing on leading brands, which are expected to account for 95% of Unilever's total turnover by 2004.

DiverseyLever was created following Unilever's acquisition of Diversey in 1996, and its subsequent merging with Lever Industrial. The company, with sales of $1.48 billion for the fiscal year ended June 2001 , is a leading provider in Europe and Latin America of cleaning and hygiene services to professional customers, particularly in the food-preparation, lodging and laundry sectors.

Johnson Wax, of Racine, Wis., is a closely held housekeeping- and floor-care products concern. It has about 3,800 employees.

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