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Unilever sells tea business to PE firm CVC for £3.8bn

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Unilever has agreed a deal to sell its tea business, which has brands included PG Tips and Lipton, to private equity firm CVC Partners for 4.5 billion euros (£3.8 billion).

The tea operation, known as Ekaterra, runs 34 brands and generated two billion euros (£1.7 billion) of revenues in 2020, Unilever said.

It comes almost two years after Unilever started the process of reviewing and spinning off the operation, which is the world’s largest tea manufacturer.

The acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to complete in the second half of 2022.

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Unilever launched a review into its tea business in early 2020 (Tim Ireland/PA)

The deal will not include Unilever’s tea business in India, Nepal and Indonesia, the consumer group added.

Unilever’s chief executive officer Alan Jope hailed the move as “further progress” as it continues to reshape its consumer portfolio.

He said: “The evolution of our portfolio into higher growth spaces is an important part of our growth strategy for Unilever.

“Our decision to sell Ekaterra demonstrates further progress in delivering against our plans.

“We look forward to seeing Ekaterra, with its strong brands and global footprint, prosper under CVC’s ownership.”

Pev Hooper, managing partner at CVC Capital Partners, said: “Ekaterra is a great business, built on strong foundations of leading brands and a purpose-driven approach to its products, people and communities.

“Ekaterra is well positioned in an attractive market to accelerate its future growth, and to lead the category’s sustainable development.

“We look forward to working with the team to realise Ekaterra’s full potential.”

John Davison, chief executive officer of Ekaterra, said: “Ekaterra is a strong business with positive momentum and has an exciting future ahead under the new ownership of CVC.

“We look forward to the next stage of our journey as the world’s leading tea business.”

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