Smithfield Foods is buying the European meats business of Sara Lee Corporation for $575 million. Smithfield intends to complete and finance the acquisition through a 50 percent-owned joint venture with Oaktree Capital Management. The company expects the deal to close by the end of September.

Sara Lee's European meats business generated $1.1 billion in sales in fiscal 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 United Kingdom.

"The Sara Lee business is well positioned with strong brands and broad distribution and is an important player in processed meats in Western Europe," said C. Larry Pope, president and chief operating officer of Smithfield. "We are pleased to be moving to the next phase with Sara Lee in the acquisition process," he said.

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