Two years after Bumble Bee Foods pleaded guilty to price-fixing, the canned tuna producer is in talks with seafood industry peer FCF Fishery to buy it during a bankruptcy reorganization, according to people with knowledge of the discussions.
Bumble Bee Foods HQ in Santa Fe Springs, California
Taiwan-based FCF Fishery would act as a stalking-horse bidder in a Chapter 11 reorganization, which San Diego-based Bumble Bee could file as soon as this week, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing the private deliberations. A stalking-horse bid sets a floor for any other offers that emerge in a court-supervised sale. Talks could still fall apart and terms of any deal could change, they said.
epresentatives for the companies declined to comment.
FCF Fishery, which calls itself the largest tuna supplier in the western Pacific, has discussed a bid for about USD 925 million made up of USD 275 million of equity and USD 650 million of debt, one of the people said. The proposal calls for paying down part of Bumble Bee’s existing first-lien debt.
Bumble Bee, the largest North American brand of packaged seafood, is beset with criminal fines and civil lawsuits stemming from a federal price-fixing case. It pleaded guilty in 2017 to conspiring with Starkist Co. and Chicken of the Sea Inc. to fix and raise prices of canned tuna in the United States from 2011 through at least late 2013. The company also agreed to cooperate with the antitrust investigation.
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