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Bumble Bee may catch a hook from FCF Fishery, amid bankruptcy sting: Bloomberg
Posted on Thursday, 21 November 2019 10:46
Seafood business FCF Fishery is throwing Bumble Bee Foods a rescue line, two years after the US-based canned tuna producer pleaded guilty to price-fixing and amid a filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection later this week, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.

According to one of these sources, the Taiwan-headquartered buyer is discussing an offer of USD 925.00 million, comprising USD 275.00 million of equity and USD 650.00 million of debt.

The deal would also call for FCF Fishery to pay down part of Bumble Bee’s obligations.

Zephyr, the M&A database published by Bureau van Dijk, shows that if this transaction goes ahead it would be the largest targeting a seafood product preparation and packaging group announced worldwide since the start of 2019.

Headquartered in San Diego, the target may also receive offers from other businesses as part of the court-supervised sale, with the potential suitor acting as a stalking horse bidder and setting the base for any other proposals made.

Bumble Bee has faced the sting of investigations in recent years after pleading guilty to price fixing and conspiring with Starkist and Chicken of the Sea to raise the price of canned tuna in the US between 2011 and 2013.

The business is fully cooperating with the antitrust enquiry; however, former chief executive Christopher Lischewski pleaded not guilty to criminal-related charges last year, with his trial beginning earlier this month.

Bumble Bee argued in its case that the USD 81.50 million fine would send it into insolvency, therefore the US Department of Justice cut the amount to USD 25.00 million and gave the company an instalment plan.

Founded in 1899 by a handful of fishermen, the company claims to be North America’s largest branded shelf-stable seafood company, offering a full line of canned and pouched tuna, salmon, sardines and speciality products.

FCF Fishery is billed as one of the world’s largest marine products providers, specialising in tuna.

According to Zephyr, the acquisition of Bumble Bee would represent the largest deal since 2014, when, interestingly, the US-based canned fish group was picked up by Thai Union Frozen Products for USD 1.25 billion.

This was actually the biggest transaction in the seafood product preparation and packaging sector announced on record.

© Zephus Ltd