By  on December 5, 2005

NEW YORK — Sara Lee Corp.'s bombshell in the spring that it would split apart its $4.5 billion apparel operation and business in the Americas-Asia territories and sell its $1.2 billion European apparel business, was a huge surprise for the industry.

But experts said the move was a smart decision because it could create value for shareholders and strengthen the company's cadre of brands, which include powerhouse names such as Hanes, Champion and Playtex.

The spin-off of Sara Lee Branded Apparel is likely to be completed between June and September, at which time the company will be renamed Hanesbrands Inc. Several industry experts are comparing the transformation of Sara Lee Branded Apparel into a separate, independent apparel company with the success story of Coach, which Sara Lee spun off in 2000.

All of the elements appear to be falling in place for Sara Lee Branded Apparel. Sara Lee signed a definitive agreement Nov. 14 with Sun Capital Partners to sell its European apparel business for $117.5 million.

Addressing the progress of the upcoming spin-off, Lee A. Chaden, chief executive officer of Sara Lee Branded Apparel, said, 'All aspects of our plan are on track to spin off Sara Lee Branded Apparel Americas-Asia into a freestanding, publicly traded company between June and September 2006.

'The scope and scale of our product line fits well with the needs of the larger retailers emerging from the consolidations of the past several years. Their increased size makes it possible for us to develop business-building ideas tailored to meet their needs and economically worthwhile for both of us."

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