Tuna Merger Nixed Amid U.S. Antitrust Worries

     (CN) – Chicken of the Sea and Bumble Bee ditched their plans to merge after the government expressed “serious concerns,” the Justice Department said.
     International seafood producer Thai Union Group, which owns Tri-Union Sea Foods LLC dba Chicken by the Sea, and Bumble Bee Foods LLC abandoned their acquisition plans after the U.S. Department of Justice said it had “serious concerns that the proposed transaction would harm competition,” according to a government press release.
     The proposed merger would have combined the second and third largest sellers of shelf-stable tuna in the United States, and the two largest domestic suppliers of other shelf-stable seafood, the government says.
     Bill Baer, assistant attorney for the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, said “consumers are better off without this deal.”
     “Our investigation convinced us – and the parties knew or should have known from the get go – that the market is not functioning competitively today, and further consolidation would only make things worse,” Baer said in a statement.
     Thai Union is the world’s largest producer of shelf-stable tuna, according to the press release. Its Chicken of the Sea subsidiary is headquartered in San Diego, Calif.
     Bumble Bee is also located in San Diego. It is owned by Lion Capital LLP.
     On Friday, Thai Union issued a statement announcing the abandoned merger.
     “Over the course of last twelve months, both the company and Lion Capital have vigorously advocated the merits of the deal to the U.S. Department of Justice,” the statement reads. “However, the company and Lion Capital have concluded that the clearance is unlikely under the time stipulated in the share purchase agreement.”

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