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News > Companies
NutraSweet gets pink slip
July 1, 1999: 4:15 p.m. ET

Monsanto puts artificial sweetener up for sale, along with 'biogum' business
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NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Monsanto Co. put its artificial sweetener business, including the popular Equal and NutraSweet brands, on the selling block Thursday in a continuing attempt to rejuvenate its souring bottom line.
     The St. Louis-based life sciences company also said is would sell its "biogum" business in conjunction with a restructuring plan announced last November. Company officials expect to move on divesting both businesses "quickly," although no potential buyers were identified.
     Proceeds from the sales will be used to pay down corporate debt.
     Combined, Monsanto's artificial sweetener and biogum businesses employ roughly 2,100 people worldwide, including plants in San Diego, Oklahoma, Georgia, Illinois, France and England. Company officials said there would be no interruption of service to customers involving any of the products up for sale.
     NutraSweet and Equal are sugar substitutes, while the "biogum" line includes xanthan gum and other food additives that are used as thickeners in pharmaceuticals and processed foods.
     With the divestitures, Monsanto officials expect to concentrate more on its core businesses, which include a gamut of products from the herbicide Roundup to the controversial arthritis drug Celebrex. It also is a pioneer in the field of genetically modified crops.
     Despite a sharp drop in its first quarter profits, Monsanto Chairman and Chief Executive Robert B. Shapiro remains upbeat on the firm's second quarter and long-term prospects.
     That despite the prospect of losing combined sales of $1 billion from its sweetener, biogum and already divested algins food ingredients business.
     Monsanto (MTC)shares 3-3/16 to 42-3/4 in trading just prior to the closing bell.Back to top

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