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Private equity group submits Sara Lee bid: source

PHILADELPHIA/NEW YORK (Reuters) - A private equity group led by Apollo Global Management APOLO.UL has submitted a takeover offer for Sara Lee Corp SLE.N, but an expected rival offer has not yet been made by Brazilian beef processor JBS JBSS3.SA, a source familiar with the situation said on Saturday.

Details of the bid submitted by Apollo, Bain Capital and TPG Capital TPG.UL were not immediately available. Preliminary bids, or indications of interest, had been due on Friday, sources previously told Reuters.

Sara Lee and the private equity firms were not immediately available to comment.

Sara Lee, with a market value of about $11.5 billion, has been examining various options such as selling itself or splitting itself up into separate meat and beverage units.

Analysts have said Sara Lee could fetch as much as $23 a share, or $14.7 billion, in a takeover. Shares of Sara Lee closed on Friday at $18.70 on the New York Stock Exchange.

The Sara Lee board is expected to approve a plan to split the company at a meeting later this month unless a compelling takeover bid emerges, a separate source familiar with the situation previously told Reuters.

The future of Sara Lee, whose brands include Jimmy Dean sausages and Senseo coffee, has been in question for some months.

It has been functioning with an interim chief executive since August when Brenda Barnes left after suffering a stroke.

Barnes became CEO in 2005 and led a major restructuring at Sara Lee, spinning off its Hanes underwear business and selling other non-food businesses. A sale or breakup could be the final play in a decade-long shrinking of the company, which spun off Coach Inc COH.N in 2001.

An offer from JBS had not yet emerged as expected, the source said.

A group of companies led by Brazil’s JBS had arranged a financing package to bid for all or parts of Sara Lee, sources previously told Reuters. JBS had won commitments from international banks for loans and could tap equity markets to complete the funding package, sources said.

JBS is significantly leveraged following more than a dozen takeovers since 2007. The buys have catapulted the company into the big leagues as the world’s top beef producer, but also left it relatively short of cash as it engages in talks to buy Sara Lee.

JBS, which has a market capitalization of about $11 billion, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Reporting by Jessica Hall in Philadelphia and Megan Davies in New York; Editing by Peter Cooney

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