Bumble Bee Foods filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the District of Delaware to reduce its debt burden caused by recent and significant legal challenges.
Taiwan-based fish supply chain company FCF Co. agreed to acquire Bumble Bee’s assets for approximately $925 million.
The company filed for bankruptcy amid criminal fines and civil lawsuits stemming from a federal price-fixing case. In 2017, the tuna maker pleaded guilty to conspiring with Starkist Co. and Chicken of the Sea Inc. to fix and raise prices in the U.S. and was fined $25 million.
Bumble Bee has received new financing commitments from its existing lenders that will provide sufficient liquidity to fund the business through the closing of the sale, according to a press release.
“It’s been a challenging time for our company, but these actions allow us to move forward with minimal disruption to our day-to-day operations,” said Jan Tharp, President and Chief Executive Officer for Bumble Bee. “We have an experienced leadership team in place and plan to transform our business in bold and innovative ways that will build a legacy worthy of our proud 120-year-old history.”
Bumble Bee intends to file a bid procedure and sale motion along with the purchase agreement promptly. FCF will serve as the “stalking horse” purchaser for the sale process. Its bid will be subject to a court-supervised auction process designed to achieve the highest or otherwise best offer for the company’s business.
Tharp said she anticipates that the transaction will move swiftly and close within 60-90 days. FCF’s bid includes $275 million in cash and $638.5 million in debt.
As part of the sale transaction, Bumble Bee’s Canadian affiliate, Connors Bros. Clover Leaf Seafoods Company (“CBCLS”), will be initiating proceedings under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (the “CCAA”). As part of the CCAA, CBCLS intends to seek approval of the appointment of Alvarez & Marsal Canada Inc. as the Monitor to oversee the CCAA proceedings.
“It is our clear intent that all U.S. and Canadian operations continue uninterrupted. Employees will get paid, our customer partners can count on us to continue delivering outstanding brands and services, and vendors will be paid in the ordinary course of business,” added Tharp.
Bumble Bee Foods, founded in 1899, and based in San Diego, is one of North America’s largest branded shelf-stable seafood companies, with a full line of seafood and specialty protein products marketed under leading brands including Bumble Bee, Brunswick, Snow’s, Wild Selections, and Beach Cliff.
Information Provided By Business Wire