UK supermarket group J Sainsbury has announced that it has completed the sale of its US business, Shaw’s Supermarkets, to US grocer Albertsons.

Sainsbury’s announced in March the conditional sale of Shaw’s to Albertsons for US$2.48bn. Completion of the sale was expected to take place by early May 2004.

Sainsbury’s said the transaction has now been completed following anti-trust (Hart-Scott-Rodino) clearance and completion of the audit for the period ended 28 February 2004. Sainsbury’s has received cash proceeds of US$2.11bn and Albertsons has assumed US$368m of store leases that had previously consolidated as debt on Sainsbury’s balance sheet.

Albertsons said Paul Gannon will remain CEO and president of Shaw’s, which has 204 stores operating under the Shaw’s and Star Market banners, reporting directly to Albertsons CEO Larry Johnston.

The company also said Shaw’s and Star Market stores will continue to operate under their current banners and the headquarters will remain in New Bridgewater,