Del Monte considers selling StarKist overseas

SAN FRANCISCO Friday, June 20, Del Monte Foods Co. announced that it is in negotiations with Dongwon Group, the biggest canned tuna producer in South Korea, for ownership of the StarKist seafood business. The sale would cost Dongwon Group $300 million, according to published reports.

Del Monte has said previously that it is exploring “strategic alternatives” for the future of its seafood business, and the discussion over the future of StarKist is part of that plan.

StarKist comprises around 10 percent of Del Monte’s revenue. However, the business currently faces rising costs in seafood production.

As of yet, Dongwon Enterprise Co., the company that holds the Dongwon Group, has made no announcement on a decision. The two publicly traded companies have released separate statements to the Korean stock exchange. Also, Korean media source Maeil Business Newspaper last week reported Dongwon Group might join forces with a South Korean equity fund to front the $300 million.

Del Monte originally acquired StarKist, among other divisions and manufacturing operations, from H.J. Heinz Co. in 2002 for $2.5 billion. Several divisions, including pet food and baby food businesses, were relocated from Pittsburgh, Pa., to Del Monte’s corporate headquarters.

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