A joint venture formed by Smithfield Foods and investment firm Oaktree Capital Management has completed the acquisition of the European meats business of Sara Lee Corporation.

The Paris-based venture, called Groupe Smithfield, will pay Sara Lee US$575m plus the assumption of pension-related liabilities in an amount not to exceed $39m.

To finance the acquisition, Smithfield contributed its Jean Caby operations, which had sales in Europe of $372m during 2006.

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

Robert Sharpe, currently president of international operations for Smithfield Foods, has been named as chief executive officer of Groupe Smithfield.