Sara Lee Corp , which is focusing on its core food and beverage business, is examining a sale of its European household and personal-care business, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter.

It was unclear if any deal will occur, the paper.

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

Sara Lee, Unilever, Reckitt, S.C. and Colgate-Palmolive could not be immediately reached for comment by Reuters.

Selling the household business, which accounts for about 15 percent of the company's sales, would be aimed at capturing value Sara Lee feels investors are ignoring, according to the paper.

Activist hedge fund ValueAct Capital Management LP, which owns a 5 percent Sara Lee stake and has pushed other companies to divest noncore operations, gained a seat on Sara Lee's board in August, which could provide further impetus to a sale, the paper said.

Last month, Sara Lee reported a loss of $17 million, or 2 cents a share, in the second quarter ended December 27, compared with a year-earlier profit of $182 million, or 25 cents a share.

Sara Lee's shares, which have fallen over 40 percent in the last year, closed at $7.27 Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Ajay Kamalakaran in Bangalore; Editing by Lincoln Feast)