South Korean food conglomerate Dongwon Group said today it will buy U.S. canned tuna company StarKist to expand Dongwon's market presence in the United States and South America.

According to a Reuters report, Dongwon will hold a news conference on Thursday to announce the acquisition of "slightly" more than $300 million.

Del Monte Foods Co. of San Francisco acquired StarKist in 2002 and recently announced plans to explore a sale of its seafood division. High skipjack tuna prices are eating into StarKist's profits.

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. StarKist accounted for $600 million in sales last year.

Dongwon Group is South Korea's best-known brand for processed fish, making up about 75 percent of South Korea's canned tuna market.


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Mary Fowler


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