Sara Lee ( SLE) is examining a sale of its European household and personal-care business as the company seeks to reverse a decline in its stock and focus on its core food and beverage business, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing people familiar with the matter.

The company has hired Goldman Sachs to seek possible bidders for the business, which could fetch more than $2 billion, these people said. It was unclear if any deal will occur, the Journal reports.

Sara Lee shares have fallen more than 40% in 2009 because of slowing global economic growth and the impact of the strong dollar on its international business. The stock closed at $7.27 on Thursday, giving the company a market value of about $5 billion, according to the Journal.

The company's household business accounts for about 15% of Sara Lee's sales.

The Journal reports activist hedge fund ValueAct Capital Management, which owns a 5% Sara Lee stake and has pushed other companies to divest noncore operations, gained a seat on Sara Lee's board in August, perhaps providing further impetus to a sale.

Possible bidders for part or all of the household business include Unilever ( UN), Reckitt Benckiser, S.C. Johnson & Son and Colgate-Palmolive ( CL), whose former president, William Shanahan, has been acting as an adviser to ValueAct.

A Sara Lee spokesman declined to comment for the newspaper. Spokespeople for Unilever, Reckitt and S.C. Johnson declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Colgate-Palmolive didn't return a call seeking comment.