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Exclusive: P&G exploring sale of $7 billion Wella hair care unit - sources

Procter & Gamble's corporate headquarters is seen in Cincinnati, Ohio, January 28, 2005.

By Anjuli Davies and Freya Berry

LONDON (Reuters) - Procter & Gamble Co (PG.N) is working with Goldman Sachs (GS.N) to explore the sale of its Wella hair care business that could be worth around $7 billion, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters, as the world's largest consumer products company streamlines its business.

P&G is exploring all options for the unit, which includes a professional and a trade business. That may result in selling the whole or parts, the sources said on Friday, cautioning that no final decision had been taken.

A P&G spokesman said the company did not comment on rumor or speculation. Goldman Sachs was not immediately available to comment.

Cincinnati-based P&G said in August it would shed 80 to 100 slow-growing product lines in order to focus on about 80 brands such as Tide laundry detergents and Pampers diapers which generate most of its profit and revenue.

In November, it announced the sale of its Duracell battery unit to Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N) and it has already sold the bulk of its pet food business to Mars Inc and Spectrum Brand Holdings Inc.

In the hair care segment, P&G also owns Clairol, which it bought from Bristol-Myers Squibb for $4.95 billion in 2001, and Vidal Sassoon.

Prospective buyers could include Anglo-Dutch consumer goods group Unilever (ULVR.L) and Germany's Henkel, which made an informal approach for Wella in 2002 before it was subsequently sold to P&G in 2003 for 6.5 billion euros ($8.1 billion).

P&G has undertaken a multi-year restructuring program, cutting thousands of jobs and taking steps to streamline operations, launch new products and expand into fast-growing emerging markets, under pressure from shareholders including activist investor William A. Ackman, who took a stake in P&G in 2012.

It is also thought to be exploring options for Braun, which makes electric razors and toothbrushes and which it acquired as part of its $57 billion purchase of Gillette in 2005, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. It could also look to sell some of its fragrance business.

(Additional reporting by Pamela Barbaglia; Editing by Mark Potter)