UPDATE 1-Food ingredients maker Tate & Lyle eyes business split in health push

(Adds details from statement, analyst comment, background)

April 26 (Reuters) - Tate & Lyle confirmed on Sunday it was exploring the sale of a controlling stake in its commercial sweeteners unit and separate it from its food and beverage solutions business as the food ingredients maker focuses on healthy products.

"If a transaction of this nature was completed it would enable Tate & Lyle and the new business to focus their respective strategies and capital allocation priorities," the British company said in a statement here on its website.

Tate & Lyle, one of the world’s biggest producers of sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup, said earlier this year it expects modestly higher annual profit, partly due to demand for its food and beverage solutions in North America.

The company said discussions with potential new partners for the Primary Products business are at an early stage. The food and beverage solutions unit makes texturants, stabilisers and low-calorie sweeteners.

“The devil will be in the detail of how to achieve operational separation, as well as minimising stranded cost and tax leakage,” Jefferies analysts said in a note on Sunday.

Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri