The Sunday Times said at the weekend, without citing sources, that Sara Lee has offered between $3bn (€2.26bn) and $3.5bn for the whole division.
The division itself has an annual turnover of about $2.3bn, employs 8,000 people and owns major personal care brands such as Sanex, Radox and Brylcreem.
The newspaper claimed PZ Cussons, which owns the Imperial Leather brand, was one of a dozen bidders to have made it onto a short list of potential buyers.
Competitors eye Sara Lee's European business
Last month Sara Lee admitted that the company had received “expressions of interest” in the European-based household and personal care business and was considering the option of selling.
However, it did not comment on who the interested parties were.
The Sunday Times said PZ Cussons was one of the smaller firms on the short-list of potential buyers. The paper said other names in the running include SC Johnson, Colgate-Palmolive, Unilever and Reckitt Benckiser.
The bidders may not all be interested in buying the whole business. The Sunday Times said that Goldman Sachs, which is handling the sale, has invited separate bids for either the household or personal care division.
Sara Lee aims to streamline business with sale
Either way selling off the Netherlands-based business segment will trim down the size of Sara Lee, which has already slimmed significantly over the past decade.
Following several major divestments, including the sale of its direct sales cosmetics business to Tupperware in 2005, Sara Lee’s annual turnover has fallen from $19.7bn in 1997 to $13.2bn in the fiscal year 2008.
If Sara Lee now decides to sell its entire household and body care business, the company would be reduced to a food and beverage operation.