Chicken of the Sea and Bumble Bee have called off their proposed merger after the Obama administration told the companies it would hurt competition in the U.S. canned tuna market.
The Justice Department announced Friday that the deal, announced a year ago between Thailand’s largest seafood company and Bumble Bee Foods of the U.S., was off. If Thai Union Group, owner of Chicken of the Sea, had bought Bumble Bee, it would have combined the second- and third-largest sellers of tinned tuna in the U.S. in a market long dominated by three major brands.
“Consumers are better off without this deal,” Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer said in a printed statement. He said the two companies knew or should have known that competition already is lacking in the canned tuna market, and more consolidation would make the situation worse.
Thai Union, with annual sales of about $3.5 billion and some 35,000 employees worldwide, also has international brands John West, King Oscar, Petit Navire, Parmentier, Mareblu and Century. Bumble Bee posts sales of around $1 billion yearly; it has roughly 1,300 employees. In addition to Bumble Bee, its canned seafood brands include Wild Selections, Beach Cliff, Brunswick and Snow’s.
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