Bumble Bee Seafoods, which reportedly has been on the market for months, will be acquired by Thai Union Frozen Products Public Co. for $1.5 billion. The Thai company is the world's largest producer of canned tuna and already owns the Chicken of the Sea brand.
Reuters news service reported the sale, which was announced Dec. 18, saying Thai Union has plans to double revenue through overseas acquisitions, with a goal to reach sales of $8 billion by 2020. Seller was private-equity firm Lion Capital.
Bumble Bee is the No. 2 tuna brand in the U.S., and Chicken of the Sea is third in sales. The leading brand is Starkist, owned by South Korea's Dongwon Industries Co. Ltd.
"The deal is the largest acquisition in the history of our company and one of the most exciting external growth propositions," Thiraphong Chansiri, Thai Union's president/CEO, was quoted by Reuters.
Thai Union has operated in the U.S. for more than 17 years, and Thiraphong said he expects a "positive response" to the acquisition from U.S. regulators. Others are not so sure. With such product concentration, especially in foreign hands, and the possibility of a consolidation of Bumble Bee and Chicken of the Sea, some U.S. assets may need to be sold, some analysts said.