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LONDON: British consumer goods group Unilever on Thursday said it had agreed to sell its global tea business, including brands Lipton and PG Tips, for 4.5 billion euros ($5.1 billion). The sale to private equity group CVC Capital Partners comes as Unilever seeks higher growth opportunities elsewhere, chief executive Alan Jope said in a statement.

“The evolution of our portfolio into higher growth spaces is an important part of our growth strategy for Unilever,” he said. “Our decision to sell ekaterra demonstrates further progress in delivering against our plans.”

The ekaterra tea division, with a portfolio of 34 brands including also Pukka, T2 and TAZO, generated revenues of around two billion euros last year, Unilever said. “Ekaterra is a great business, built on strong foundations of leading brands and a purpose driven approach to its products, people and communities,” Pev Hooper, managing partner at CVC Capital Partners, said in the statement.

He said the business was “well positioned in an attractive market to accelerate its future growth, and to lead the category’s sustainable development”.

The deal is set to complete in the second half of next year, subject to regulatory approvals.

The transaction excludes Unilever’s tea business in India, Nepal and Indonesia as well as its interests in the Pepsi Lipton ready-to-drink Tea joint ventures and associated distribution businesses.

Unilever, whose products include also Magnum ice-cream, Cif surface cleaner and Dove soap, completed the merger of its Dutch and British corporate entities a year ago.

Last month, it warned that high cost pressures would continue into next year, as it posted rising sales thanks to price hikes. The world is experiencing strong inflation as economies reopen from pandemic lockdowns amid supply constraints and strong demand. Costs of raw materials and energy are surging, while a number of sectors are impacted additionally by a need to pay higher wages as they struggle to find staff.

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