Analyst: Hormel one of several companies with Hillshire, Sara Lee takeover interests

Sara Lee Corp. is expected to split into two companies Thursday, and Hormel Foods Corp. may be one of several corporations interested in a takeover of the newly formed Hillshire Brands.

Sara Lee announced last year it would split into two public companies, one in the U.S. called Hillshire Brands — which will run Sara Lee, Hillshire Farms, Jimmy Dean, Ball Park and other similar retail and food-service brands — and an international coffee and tea business called D.E Master Blenders 1753, according to the Associated Press.

Bernstein Research analyst Alexia Howard told Reuters on Monday the takeover is “fairly likely” and said Hormel and Tyson Foods Inc. are the two companies in the best position to make that move based on the companies’ “strategic rationale for the deal as well as their financial capability.” Others, according to Howard, include Smithfield Foods Inc. and Brazil’s JBS and Brasil Foods, but are less likely.

The 2012 Fortune 500 list had Sara Lee at No. 220 and the company reported revenue at $12.1 billion and profits at $154.3 million for the 2011 fiscal year. Hormel was 327 on the same list, with reported revenue at $7.9 billion and profits at $474.2 million.

Hormel Foods declined to comment.

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