Anglo-Dutch consumer products group Unilever NV/Plc said on Monday it agreed to sell the bulk of its frozen foods business to private equity group Permira Funds for 1.725 billion euros ($2.2 billion).

Unilever put the unit, which includes the Birds Eye and Iglo brands, up for sale in February. The deal includes Unilever's frozen foods operations in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal and the UK.

Unilever said in a statement it would retain its frozen foods business in Italy, and that the deal did not include operations in Spain, which were sold two months ago. Unilever's ice cream business was not included in the Permira deal, the company said.

We are delighted the Permira Funds are acquiring such iconic brands and look forward to supporting their growth going forward. The market sees few food deals of this size and very rarely involving brands of this stature, said Cheryl Potter, Partner at Permira.

Unilever said it expected the frozen food divestment to be completed by the end of the year.

The company decided to sell after years of underperformance, and its frozen food sales dipped 4.5 percent last year as many European consumers continued to turn to fresh or chilled meals.

Permira is understood to have seen off competition from bidders including Capvest and a consortium of Blackstone, JP Morgan Partners and Kerry Foods, the Sunday Times reported at the weekend.