Unilever, the world’s third-biggest food and consumer goods company, is to cut thousands of jobs and sell poorly-performing businesses, to speed up recovery and fight surging costs. It will close or streamline some 50 of its 300 factories, and shed up to 20,000 jobs in a drive to save one and a half billion euros a year by 2010. The cuts will be mainly in Europe, over the next four years. Unilever is a wideranging business, whose many brands include Dove soap, Knorr soups, Magnum ice creams and Sunsilk shampoo. In response to the news, shares in the Anglo-Dutch giant rose as much as eight and a half percent on hopes it is turning the corner after years of poor performance. The company also posted better-than-expected second quarter results, beating analysts’ forecasts. It now expects full-year sales growth to come in at the upper end of its three-to-five percent target band. Unilever has been steadily recovering from a shock profits warning in 2004. But it has generally lagged behind rivals such as Switzerland’s Nestle in food, and US consumer products giant Procter and Gamble.