Having spurned offers from Brazil's JBS and others, global food and beverage giant Sara Lee Corp., Downers Grove, Ill., announced last week that it would spin off the company's two major business units into separate public businesses.

Officials said CJ Fraleigh, 47, who currently serves as Sara Lee’s chief executive officer, North America, will be named chief executive officer of a new North American Retail and Foodservice business upon completion of the transactions early next year.

Sara Lee said it will spin off its North American Retail and North American Foodservice businesses (excluding the North American beverage business) into a new public company that will retain the “Sara Lee” name. Its leading brands will include Sara Lee, Jimmy Dean, Ball Park, Hillshire Farm, Chef Pierre and State Fair. The new company would have reported approximately $4.1 billion in revenue in fiscal 2010.

The other company (yet to be named) will consist of Sara Lee’s current International Beverage and Bakery businesses, as well as the North American beverage business. Its leading brands will include Douwe Egberts, Senseo, Pickwick, Maison du Café, L’OR, Café Pilão, Marcilla and Bimbo. This entity would have reported approximately $4.6 billion in revenue in fiscal 2010 using fiscal 2010 actual exchange rates.

“Today’s announcement is a logical step following the divestment of our International Household and Body Care business and the announced sale of our North American Fresh Bakery business,” said James Crown, Sara Lee Corp. chairman. “We have carefully considered various strategic alternatives, including unsolicited indications of interest in the company. We believe that the spin-off, plus the one-time special dividend, offers the greatest potential for delivering long-term shareholder value. These two pure-play companies will have their own distinct growth strategies within their respective core markets that will attract a more focused shareholder base.”

Officials said they expect to complete all separation activities by early 2012. In other news, Sara Lee's board of directors named an executive team to lead Sara Lee through calendar 2011. New officers include Jan Bennink, 54, as director and executive chairman. Sara Lee appointed Marcel Smits, 49, as corporate chief executive officer. Mark Garvey, 46, was named chief financial officer.