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Unilever Nears Ice Cream Spin-off in 2025

by Alice

LONDON – Unilever’s decision to separate its ice cream business from its core operations, announced in March, is proceeding as planned, with a spin-off being the most likely scenario. The company reiterated this stance during a conference call on April 25 discussing its first-quarter results. Management indicated that the separation process has commenced and is anticipated to conclude by the conclusion of 2025.

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Chief Financial Officer Fernando Fernandez reiterated the company’s commitment to exploring all options for separation, emphasizing that the primary objective is to maximize value for shareholders.

“This option provides us with complete control over the separation process,” Fernandez stated. “However, we remain open to considering alternative strategies if they offer superior value creation for our stakeholders.”

Fernandez underscored that the decision to spin off the ice cream business is driven by Unilever’s current strategic position rather than the performance of the business unit.

“It was a clear outlier in our portfolio, characterized by a distinct margin structure, higher capital intensity, and unique distribution channels,” Fernandez explained. “Separation will enable us to focus more sharply on our core operations, resulting in accelerated growth, improved margins, and enhanced returns on assets and cash conversion.”

Unilever reported first-quarter sales of €15 billion ($16.05 billion), reflecting a 1.4% increase compared to the same period in 2023. Within its nutrition business unit, sales rose by 3.7% to €3.4 billion, driven primarily by pricing, although volume declined slightly due to SKU rationalization in Europe.

Meanwhile, sales in the ice cream business unit reached €1.8 billion, up 2.3% year-over-year. Price increases partially offset a decline in volume, reflecting the company’s response to rising costs of key ingredients such as cocoa and sugar.

Unilever reaffirmed its 2024 guidance, projecting sales growth excluding acquisitions, divestments, or currency effects to be in the range of 3% to 5% over 2023, when the company reported sales of €59.6 billion.

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