DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. ( TheStreet) -- Sara Lee ( SLE) is looking to sell its struggling North American bakery business, according to reports.

Sara Lee has asked its financial advisers to gauge interest from potential buyers, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing people familiar with the matter.

The unit had $2.2 billion in annual sales. The business could be sold for at least $1 billion or more, the people said, the Journal reports.

Sara Lee could still decide not to sell the subsidiary. But Sara Lee's advisers have reached out to companies and private-equity firms that might be interested in the unit, which makes bread under the Sara Lee and Earth Grains names, according to the Journal.

Bloomberg reports advisers recently began canvassing private-equity funds to gauge their interest as demand from strategic buyers such as Mexico's Grupo Bimbo may be limited. Meanwhile, companies such as Campbell Soup ( CPB) may not want to dip further into the highly-competitive bread segment, the Journal notes.

A spokesman for Sara Lee declined to comment on any potential sale, adding that Sara Lee sees "tremendous potential" for the bakery business and the company is focused on running it.

News of the potential sale was first reported by Crain's Chicago Business.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel in New York.

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