US: Sara Lee is to split into two separate publicly traded companies. The separation, expected to complete early next year, will see Sara Lee's North American retail and foodservice businesses (excluding its North American drinks business) spun off into a new public company under the Sara Lee name.

The other company, as-yet-unnamed, will consist of Sara Lee's current international drinks and bakery business including the North American drinks business. Sara Lee has long been considered a takeover target but suitors are thought to have struggled to finance a big enough bid.

Walmart has appointed Duncan MacNaughton as chief merchandising officer for its US stores. MacNaughton will oversee all merchandise categories across more than 3,700 stores, reporting to Walmart US president and CEO Bill Simon. Mac Naughton joined Walmart in 2009 as chief merchandising officer for Walmart Canada. In October, he was named executive vice president of merchandising for Walmart US, responsible for consumables, health & wellness and

AUSTRALIA: Wesfarmers has reported a 6.7% rise in second-quarter sales at its Coles supermarkets following record Christmas trading. Sales at Coles rose to AU$8.8bn (£5.5bn) in the three months ended 2 January from AU$8.3bn a year earlier.

"The second-quarter result was capped off with a record Christmas sales period for Coles food and liquor," said MD Richard Goyder.

FRANCE: Carrefour is studying options that could result in it listing certain assets in a bid to boost valuations. As soon as the studies are completed, they will be submitted for review to the board of directors, the company said. Reports suggested the group was considering offloading a majority stake of its property holdings but the company said it would retain control of Carrefour Property.

SWITZERLAND: Nestlé Health Science has acquired CM&D Pharma. The company specialises in products for patients with kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer.