Nestle Mulling PowerBar Brand Sale

"Actively looking" for other lines to part with, sources say

Nestle PowerBar

VEVEY, Switzerland -- Nestle SA, the world's largest food company, is looking to divest its PowerBar energy bars, a pioneer of sports nutrition products, four people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The sale of PowerBar could fetch several hundred million dollars, the people said. They asked not to be identified because the matter is private. Nestle declined to comment to the news agency.

The brand, which one of the sources said generates about $175 million in revenue, was founded by Brian Maxwell, a Canadian athlete and entrepreneur.

Nestle bought PowerBar in 2000 for an undisclosed price, though some media reports pegged it at $375 million. The brand now includes a range of energy bars, sports drinks, gels and protein supplements, but it is facing increasing competition from other brands such as Clif Bar and Kind Healthy Snacks.

The company said it was "actively looking" at its 8,000 brands for others it might want to part with, said the report. In addition to PowerBar, other possible candidates for pruning could include Jenny Craig diet centers and Lean Cuisine frozen meals, analysts have said.

Nestle, based in Vevey, Switzerland, sells everything from baby formula, bottled water and coffee to ice cream, chocolate bars and pet food.

Nestle is not the only conglomerate divesting underperforming or unrelated businesses, the report said. Rival Unilever Plc parted with its Skippy peanut butter and Wish-Bone salad dressings, Campbell Soup Co. struck a deal to sell some European brands and GlaxoSmithKline Plc is selling its Lucozade and Ribena drinks.

Food and beverage product maker Nestle USA, Glendale, Calif., with 2012 sales of $10 billion, is part of Nestle SA, Vevey, Switzerland, which had 2012 sales of $98 billion. Brands include Nestle Toll House, Nestle Nesquik, Nestle Coffee-Mate, Stouffer's, Lean Cuisine, Hot Pockets and Lean Pockets, Nescafe, Nestle Juicy Juice, Buitoni, Dreyer's/Edy's, Nestle Crunch, Nestle Butterfinger, Wonka, Digiorno, Tombstone, California Pizza Kitchen and Jack's.