US: Bumble Bee files bankruptcy amid antitrust suits

Bumble Bee Foods, the largest North American brand of packaged seafood, filed for bankruptcy amid criminal fines and civil lawsuits stemming from a federal price-fixing case with plans for its assets to be acquired by FCF for about US$925 million.

The canned-tuna purveyor sought creditor protection under Chapter 11 in Wilmington, Delaware, listing assets and liabilities of as much as US$1 billion each, according to court papers. It has arranged a US$80 million term loan from its current lenders and a US$200 million revolving credit facility to keep operating while in bankruptcy, the documents showed.

Bumble Bee, based in San Diego and owned by London-based private equity firm Lion Capital, pleaded guilty in 2017 to conspiring with Starkist and Chicken of the Sea to fix and raise prices in the US.

The company flagged its financial distress at the time of sentencing, arguing the US$81.5 million fine initially levied could push it into insolvency. The US Department of Justice agreed, cutting the amount to US$25 million and giving Bumble Bee an installment plan over several years that required no more than US$2 million upfront.

Full Content: Grit Daily

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