Sara Lee ( SLE) agreed to sell its U.S. retail coffee business to Italy-based Segafredo Zanetti Group for $82.5 million.

The transaction is expected to close by year-end, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. The business generated $213 million in fiscal 2005 sales under the Chock full o'Nuts, Hills Bros, Chase & Sanborn and MJB brands. The sale does not include Sara Lee's global Senseo brand.

In February, Sara Lee identified coffee as a business that would be sold as part of its transformation.

"With this sale, we are pleased to mark another important step in transforming Sara Lee into a more focused, more disciplined, high-performing company," said CEO Brenda C. Barnes. "With the on-schedule sale of our U.S. Retail Coffee business, we are achieving another key milestone in simplifying our organization and better positioning Sara Lee to drive long-term, sustainable growth for our shareholders."

The Chicago-based company will take a $44 million pretax impairment charge in the first quarter of fiscal 2006, to reflect the difference between the sale price and the coffee unit's carrying value. The charge will cut earnings by $39 million, or a nickel a share.

On Wednesday, Sara Lee shares fell a nickel to $18.06.

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