Sara Lee to acquire Philips' stake in Senseo coffee brand for $223 million

Sara Lee Corp, the US consumer goods conglomerate yesterday said that it would acquire the stake owned by its Dutch partner, electronics giant Philips in the Senseo coffee brand, for €170 million ($223 million).

Sara Lee and Amsterdam-based Philips formed a 50-50 joint venture in 2001 to launch the Senseo coffee brand, with Sara Lee providing fresh ground coffee pods and Philips distributing the single-serve machines.

The brand soon became a household name in the Netherlands, with more than half of Dutch and a quarter of French and German households having a Senseo coffee maker, according to Philips. During the period of the JV, the two companies sold over 33 million appliances worldwide.

Illinois-based Sara Lee will now have full control of the Senseo trademark just ahead of splitting itself into two companies, one of them an overseas coffee and tea business.

Sara Lee expects to expand into new coffee segments and markets, where it competes with Swiss food and beverage giant Nestle SA's single-serve Nespresso espresso capsules and Kraft Foods' Tassimo, while Philips will continue to design, manufacture and distribute all Senseo machines over the next nine years.

"This acquisition and partnership allow us to strengthen our relationship with Philips to focus on innovation in coffee technology and aggressively push geographical expansion," said Jan Bennink, executive chairman of the board, Sara Lee Corp. "Philips' long history of innovation, combined with superior retail strength in our key markets, makes it the perfect partner to work with as we take Senseo to the next level."