SAN DIEGO — Bumble Bee Foods has declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy and has entered into an asset purchase agreement with F.C.F. Fishery Co., Ltd., a seafood processor and distributor based in Kaohsiung City, Taiwan. Under the arrangement, F.C.F. will pay $925 million for the assets. The declaration of bankruptcy will facilitate the sale and help Bumble Bee reduce its debt burden, the company said.
“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, president and chief executive officer of 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.”
Much of the company’s debt burden stems from legal trouble due to a federal price fixing case. In 2017, the company pled guilty for its role in a conspiracy to fix the prices of shelf-stable tuna fish, and the company agreed to pay a $25 million criminal fine. Since that time, Bumble Bee has been the target of class action lawsuits from retailers, distributors and consumers. In the bankruptcy filing the company listed its liabilities in the range of $500,000,001 to $1 billion.
Under the asset purchase agreement, F.C.F. will serve as the “stalking horse” purchaser under the court supervised auction process. Ms. Tharp said she anticipates a sale will close within 60 to 90 days.
“It is our clear intent that all U.S. and Canadian operations continue uninterrupted,” Ms. 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.”