Bumble Bee Foods Files for Bankruptcy
Bumble Bee Foods has filed for bankruptcy, citing recent and significant legal challenges. It has agreed to sell its assets to Taiwan-based fish supply chain company FCF Co. for about $925 million. The deal is expected to close within 60-90 days.
“It’s been a challenging time for our company but today’s actions allow us to move forward with minimal disruption to our day-to-day operations,” said Jan Tharp, Bumble Bee's president and chief executive officer, in a media release. “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.”
San Diego-based 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 the release. “It is our clear intent that all U.S. and Canadian operations continue uninterrupted," Tharp said. "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."
Owned by London-based private-equity firm Lion Capital, Bumble Bee in 2017 pleaded guilty to forming a cartel with its two main competitors, Chicken of the Sea and StarKist Co., and agreed to pay a $25 million fine, The Wall Street Journal reported. Subsequently, the Justice Department indicted Bumble Bee then-CEO Christopher Lischewski for his alleged role in the conspiracy. Pleading guilty, he took a leave of absence from Bumble Bee last year and is on trial in California federal court. The company is also facing class-action lawsuits from consumers, distributors and retailers over the conspiracy, according to the WSJ.