Anglo-Dutch food and personal care concern Unilever sold its spreads business – including well-known brands such as Flora and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter – on 15 December to New York-headquartered global investment firm KKR.

The €6.825bn (US$8.04bn) deal was part of Unilever’s profitability programme launched in April that aimed to sell off the spreads business to allow the company to improve its bottom line and accelerate sustainable value creation, Unilever said in a statement.

According to The Guardian, the sale of Unilever’s spreads unit, which represented 7% of its global business, was the biggest leveraged buyout in Europe in 2017.

“This announcement marks a further step in reshaping and sharpening our portfolio for long-term growth,” said Unilever CEO Paul Polman.

“I am confident that under KKR’s ownership, the spreads business with its iconic brands will be able to fulfil its full potential,” he added.

Among the Unilever spread brands included in the sale were Becel, Blue Band, Country Crock, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, ProActiv and Rama.

Johannes Huth, head of KKR EMEA, said the company would continue following Unilever’s sustainable sourcing policies, including working towards sourcing 100% sustainable palm oil by 2019.

Other brands still held by Unilever – which in September sold its South African spreads business to Remgro – include detergent brand Persil, Knorr food products, Lipton teas and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

In February, Unilever dismissed an unwanted US$143bn takeover offer by American food giant Kraft Heinz after making clear it had no intentions to sell off its whole business.