Following a far-reaching review of its operations [WAMN: 27-May-05], US-headquartered food processing multinational H J Heinz announced Tuesday it intends to sell all its non-core European brands and businesses.

The seafood, vegetable and frozen-foods businesses will be first under the auctioneer's hammer, as will its poultry unit in New Zealand. Between them these assets generate around $1.4 billion (€1.15bn; £776m) in annual sales.

Brands likely to be sold to third parties are Weight Watchers, Linda McCartney vegetarian products, John West Foods and Aunt Bessie's pies and puddings. Auctioneers J P Morgan Chase and UBS have been retained to whip up the bids.

Following the disposals, the company's European operations are expected to account for around $2.5 billion, or 30% of global revenues. The slim-down emulates a process already concluded stateside.

The core products on which Heinz' focus will intensify are its flagship ketchup range, canned foods/soups and babyfoods.

Hypes the company's Trinitarian chairman/president/ceo William R Johnson: "Heinz is becoming an even more attractive investment opportunity as we focus on three strong categories where we have the consumer expertise, the leading brands and operational capabilities to generate stronger and higher quality growth in profits and sales."

Data sourced from International Herald Tribune Online; additional content by WARC staff