Tyson Explores Sale of Sara Lee Frozen Bakery, Kettle

  • Meat company to focus on protein, its CEO Tom Hayes says
  • Businesses on block make desserts, waffles and breakfast bars

Tyson Foods Inc. is exploring the sale of three businesses -- Sara Lee Frozen Bakery, Kettle and Van’s -- as it focuses on meat and other forms of protein.

The units on the block produce items such as frozen desserts, waffles and breakfast bars and soups, with brands including Chef Pierre, Bistro Collection and Kettle Collection, Springdale, Arkansas-based Tyson said Monday in a statement.

"‘With our protein-focused strategy, we believe other companies may be better positioned to unlock their value over time.” Chief Executive Officer Tom Hayes said in the statement.

The announcement by the largest U.S. meat producer is one of the first strategic shifts made by Hayes, who took over as CEO at the start of the year. He previously worked for Hillshire Brands, the maker of Jimmy Dean sausages and Ball Park hot dogs, which Tyson acquired in 2014 for $8.4 billion.

Tyson is positioned to make another Hillshire-sized deal, CFO Dennis Leatherby said in December. The company could deploy about $7 billion of debt capacity in a deal without stretching its balance sheet, Bloomberg Intelligence said in a note last month.

A sale of the businesses would include plants in North Carolina, Texas and Michigan. Rothschild is Tyson’s financial adviser on the sale.