LONDON — Unilever has inked an agreement to sell its North American laundry business in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico to Vestar Capital Partners, a private equity firm.

This story first appeared in the July 29, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant, which owns beauty brands such as Dove and Sunsilk, stated terms of the deal include a cash payment of $1.08 billion and shares with a face value of $375 million in The Sun Products Corporation, a new company formed from the merger of Vestar’s Huish Detergents operation and the laundry businesses it acquired from Unilever.

The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to be wrapped up in 2008. The move is part of Unilever’s plan to dispose of nonstrategic brands.

Meanwhile, a Unilever spokesman declined to comment on weekend newspaper reports speculating that the company is seeking a replacement for chief executive Patrick Cescau. According to reports, Cescau will step down from his post next year.