Smithfield Foods that has entered into exclusive negotiations to purchase of the European meats business of Sara Lee Corporation.

Headquartered in Hoofddorp, The Netherlands, Sara Lee’s European meats business sales equaled $1.1 billion in fiscal 2005, and holds large positions in France, Portugal and the Benelux region. The company also has a presence in Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom.

“The Sara Lee business has strong brands and broad distribution, which would be an important addition to our European strategy,” says Larry Pope, Smithfield's president and chief operating officer. “The acquisition should broaden our scope and complement our position in Western Europe, particularly in France.” 

“This complements our strategy of developing strong companies with local identities in each country in which we invest,” adds Robert Sharpe, Smithfield's president of international operations.

In recent years, Smithfield has made acquisitions in Poland, Romania, France and the United Kingdom. The company’s international sales were $1 billion in fiscal 2005.

If the negotiations conclude successfully, Smithfield expects to complete and finance the acquisition through a joint venture with a private-equity firm and finance the new operating company on a stand-alone, non-recourse basis.

Smithfield Foods