Sara Lee deal done

Groupe Smithfield - the Smithfield Foods and Oaktree Capital Management Joint Venture completed its acquisition of Sara Lee's European Meats Business last week.

The 50/50 joint venture financed the $575m acquisition of Sara Lee's European meats business on a stand-alone,non-recourse basis.

Smithfield has contributed its Jean Caby operations to the joint venture. Group Jean Caby had sales of $372m in 2006 and is a major producer of branded and private label processed meats to retail and foodservice customers in France and other European countries.

Sara Lee's European meats business had sales of $1.1bn in 2005 and holds its largest positions in France, Portugal and the Benelux region, with popular European brands such as Aoste, Justin Bridou and Nobre.

The company also has a presence in Germany, Italy and the UK. Groupe Smithfield will be based in Paris and led by Robert Sharpe, who has been named ceo of the new company.

Sharpe is president of international operations for Rik Jacob and will continue to be president of Imperial Meat Products in Belgium, Heleen van Benthem will continue to be president of Meester Stegeman in The Netherlands, and in Portugal, Paulo Soares will continue to be president of Nobre.

Luc Van Gorp, currently president of Groupe Jean Caby. will be president of the new Groupe Aoste, which will be formed by the combination of Sara Lee's Groupe Aoste and Smithfield's Groupe Jean Caby.

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