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Owner of Chicken of the Sea Scraps Plans to Buy Bumble Bee Foods

Thai Union Group PCL, which owns Chicken of the Sea, said Dec. 4 that it was scrapping plans to buy Bumble Bee Foods after federal prosecutors launched an antitrust investigation into the potential merger of the country’s second- and third-largest packaged tuna in the county.

Thai Union announced the $1.5 billion proposed deal last December with Bumble Bee owner Lion Capital LLP. On Dec. 4, Thai Union said it didn’t think the deal would get government approval under the time frame spelled out in the agreement.

“We have put a lot of efforts to get this deal approved,” Thai Union CEO Thiraphong Chansiri said in a prepared statement. “However, we also recognize that the clearance is now unlikely due to a higher level of complexity in the process. We have decided to focus our energy on our existing business. Thai Union remains committed to the North American seafood market.”

The U.S. Department of Justice took credit for the merger’s dissolution, noting it had serious concerns the deal would harm competition.

“Consumers are better off without this deal,” Bill Baer, assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s anti-trust division, said in a statement. “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.”

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