Bumble Bee Foods to sell assets as it files for bankruptcy

Bumble Bee Foods, one of North America’s largest branded canned seafood companies, has entered into an agreement to sell its assets to tuna processor FCF Co of Taiwan in a deal valued at about US$925 million, as the company applies for bankruptcy protection.

To facilitate the sale and reduce its debt burden caused by recent and significant legal challenges, the company has initiated proceedings under chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code in the District of Delaware, as reported recently by The Canmaker.

Bumble Bee has received new financing commitments from its existing lenders that will provide sufficient liquidity to fund the business until the completion of the sale.

“It’s been a challenging time for our company but [these] actions allow us to move forward with minimal disruption to our day-to-day operations,” said Jan Tharp, Bumble Bee chief executive. “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.”

FCF will serve as the ‘stalking horse’ purchaser for the sale process. Its bid will be subject to a court-supervised auction process designed to achieve the highest or otherwise best offer for the company’s business. Tharp said she anticipates that the transaction will move swiftly and close within 60-90 days.

As part of the sale transaction, Bumble Bee’s Canadian affiliate, Connors Bros. Clover Leaf Seafoods Company (CBCLS), will initiate proceedings under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA). As part of this, CBCLS intends to seek approval of the appointment of Alvarez & Marsal Canada Inc. as the monitor to oversee the proceedings.

“It is our clear intent that all US and Canadian operations continue uninterrupted,” Tharp added. “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.”