Bumble Bee Foods LLC and Chicken of the Sea International have deserted their plans to merge after the US Justice Department expressed serious concerns the proposed transaction would harm competition in the nation’s canned tuna industry.
The acquisition of Bumble Bee by Thai Union Group P.L.C.—owner of Chicken of the Sea and the largest global producer of shelf-stable tuna—would have combined the second- and third-largest sellers of shelf-stable tuna in the US in a market long dominated by three major brands, the justice department said. Starkist, based in Pittsburgh, PA is the third major brand.
“Consumers are better off without this deal,” said Bill Baer, assistant attorney general of the department’s antitrust division. “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.”