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Dongwon food group to announce acquisition soon

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa, (Samoa News, June 24, 2008) - South Korean-based Dongwon food group is scheduled to hold a news conference this week to announce its acquisition of StarKist Seafood, a subsidiary of Del Monte Foods Company, according to Reuters wire service.

A Dongwon spokesman is quoted by the news agency as saying that the acquisition price will slightly top US$300 million. The spokesman said that Dongwon will hold a news conference on Thursday (Wednesday Samoa time) in Seoul to announce the acquisition.

According to Reuters, Dongwon Group is the country’s best-known brand for processed fishery food, with one of its units - Dongwon F&B Co Ltd., - taking up about 75 percent of South Korea’s canned tuna market.

It is not known yet which units of the Dongwon Group will participate in the takeover deal and how they will finance it, reported Reuters.

Asked for comments about negotiations and possible sale of StarKist to Dongwon, Del Monte spokesperson Mary Sestric said via email from San Francisco that per company policy she "cannot comment" on our inquiries.

A team of Dongwon officials were in the territory in March during the Easter weekend to tour and inspect the StarKist Samoa facility in Satala.

Del Monte confirmed last Friday that it was in discussions with South Korean-based Dongwon Enterprises Co., Ltd., and its affiliates regarding the possible sale of StarKist.

However, Del Monte said there can be no assurance that the discussions with Dongwon or the exploration of strategic alternatives will result in a transaction and that the company’s board of directors had not approved a transaction at this time. Additionally, the company did not intend to disclose developments with respect to such discussion unless and until its board of directors deemed it appropriate.

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