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/ Source: Reuters

Procter & Gamble is selling the bulk of its pet food business to Mars for $2.9 billion to focus more on its personal care and cleaning brands, the companies said on Wednesday.

In an all-cash deal, privately held Mars will buy the Iams brand, as well as Eukanuba and Natura, which account for 80 percent of P&G Pet Care's global sales. P&G is seeking other buyers for those brands in European Union markets, which were excluded from this deal.

Procter & Gamble selling most of its pet food business to Mars for $2.9 billionMARY ALTAFFER / AP, file

Mars, which makes M&M's, Uncle Ben's rice and Orbit chewing gum already owns pet care brands such as Pedigree and Whiskasustry will hit $76.8 billion in sales in 2014.

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. The exit from pet food was "an important step" toward focusing on core businesses, Chief Executive Officer A.G. Lafley said.

According to Euromonitor, P&G had just 4.7 percent of the global pet care market in 2012, the last year for which data was available. Mars had 23.4 percent of the market, putting it in a virtual dead heat with Nestle SA, maker of Purina, with a market share of 23.1 percent.

- Reuters