Anglo-Dutch food giant Unilever announced on 6 April that it would sell its margarine division, known for such brands as Flora, only two months after it rejected Kraft Heinz’ US$143bn takeover offer.

Unilever was also planning to boost dividends by 12% in 2017 and would launch a US$5.3bn shares buyback scheme by the end of the year, according to a statement from Unilever CEO Paul Polman.

“After a long history in Unilever, we have decided that the future of the spreads business now lies outside the group,” he said.

Unilever set up a separate baking, cooking and spreads unit to “allow greater focus on issues facing the business” and it said that while the unit had responded well by reducing costs, increasing cash generation and holding market share, the underlying category remained challenged.

“We have now taken the decision to launch a process to either sell or demerge spreads,” Polman said.

He added that as part of Unilever evaluating the alternatives for the spreads business, it had also decided to simplify its dual-headed legal structure.

However, the company did not plan to change its overall long-term business model, Polman concluded.