) --

Sara Lee


said Tuesday it agreed to sell its refrigerated dough business to

Ralcorp Holdings


for $545 million.

Ralcorp said the acquisition would add 30 cents a share to its earnings in the first year after the sale is complete. It plans to fund the deal through short-term debt.

>> Consumer Stock Takeovers: Deals and Targets

Ralcorp's purchase should help the private-brand food products maker improve its margins after it laid plans last month to spin off its Post Foods cereal unit. That announcement came on the heels of its twice rejecting unsolicited takeover bids from

ConAgra Foods

(CAG) - Get Conagra Brands, Inc. Report


Sara Lee announced its intention to divest its refrigerated dough business earlier this year. The unit makes up about 3% of its annual revenue.

The sale comes as part of the food maker's larger plan to spin off its North American retail and food service business, a company that will trade publicly and retain the Sara Lee name. That business includes brands such as Hillshire Farm lunch meat, Ball Park hot dogs and Jimmy Dean sausages. The other company, Sara Lee's remaining international bakery and beverages businesses, which includes Douwe Egberts and L'Or brands, was as yet unnamed but referred to as CoffeeCo and could be based overseas.

In May, Sara Lee said it was on track with the split, expected to be complete in 2012.

Sara Lee shares were 0.3% higher in premarket trading Tuesday, while Ralcorp shares were unchanged.

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Written by Miriam Marcus Reimer in New York.

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Miriam Reimer


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