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South Korean food conglomerate Dongwon Group is seeking to take over StarKist Foods, one of the biggest U.S. canned tuna suppliers, from Del Monte Foods Co. of San Francisco.

"We are negotiating terms of the takeover with Del Monte," Park In-koo, Dongwon’s vice chairman, told reporters today, adding that seven to eight companies are bidding for StarKist.

Del Monte, which acquired StarKist in 2002, confirmed the report in a statement early today, adding the discussions are in line with its previously announced exploration of strategic alternatives for its seafood business.

The Dongwon Group aims to buy StarKist for about $300 million, reports South Korean business daily Maeil Business Newspaper. Recent soaring skipjacks tuna prices are eating into StarKist's profits, weighing down on Del Monte, Maeil reports.

Del Monte is one of the largest producers, distributors and marketers of branded food and pet products for the U.S. retail market, generating more than $3.7 billion in net sales in fiscal 2008.

MadelynKearns

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