April 6, 2017 / 6:10 AM / 4 months ago

BRIEF-Unilever to sell spreads business, launch buy-back

April 6 (Reuters) - Unilever Plc

* Combining foods and refreshment into one organisation, unlocking future growth and faster margin progression

* Reconfirming our commitment to a proven long-term model of compounding growth and sustainable value creation

* Establishing a net debt / ebitda target of 2x and launching a share buy-back of eur 5 billion this year

* Accelerating connected 4 growth and targeting a 20% underlying operating margin, before restructuring, by 2020

* Raising dividend by 12%, reflecting increased confidence in outlook for profit growth and cash generation

* Support our business with a higher level of leverage, while retaining benefits of a strong credit rating

* This will enable us to enhance value for shareholders through increased capital returns, while maintaining operational and strategic flexibility

* For 2017, we remain on track to deliver underlying sales growth ahead of our markets, in 3-5% range, and we expect an underlying operating margin improvement of at least 80bps

* Target an overall underlying operating margin, which excludes restructuring, of 20% by 2020

* Future of spreads business now lies outside group

* Will look to increase our strategic flexibility for further portfolio optimisation through a review of dual-headed legal structure, with a view to simplifying it

* We maintain our full year outlook of underlying sales growth of 3-5% in continued challenging market conditions Source text for Eikon: Further company coverage: (London newsroom)

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