Centre Partners-Connors Bros. Deal Finalized


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
November 19, 2008

Centre Partners announced yesterday that it completed its acquisition of Connors Bros. Income Fund, producer of Bumble Bee canned tuna, for about $600 million.

The deal was originally announced in late September. Connors Bros.' senior management team will own a significant stake in the Toronto-based shelf-stable seafood company and continue to serve in the same executive capacity.

The New York private equity firm's relationship with the senior management team dates to May 2003, when it purchased Bumble Bee Foods from ConAgra Foods. Bumble Bee merged with Connors Bros. in April 2004.

"I am very pleased to be partnering with Centre for a second time. Their financial support and expertise should enable us to accelerate our growth plans for the business while allowing us to maintain our focus on providing the highest quality product while being the low-cost operator," says Connors Bros. CEO Chris Lischewski. "This transaction is a clear endorsement of the strength of our dedicated management team and the strength of our consumer brands."

"We continue to believe there is significant growth for seafood and, in these uncertain economic times, canned seafood in particular," says Scott Perekslis, senior partner at Centre Partners. "The company has a number of exciting growth initiatives, which we believe will significantly improve its market-leading positions in both the United States and Canada. We look forward to supporting Chris and the team as they expand their business further."

In addition to Bumble Bee, Connors Bros.' brands include Clover Leaf, Brunswick, Beach Cliff and Snow's. It also owns the Sweet Sue canned chicken brand. In mid-September, Connors Bros. unloaded its Castleberry's canned red meat business to Aunt Kitty's Foods, a subsidiary of Hanover Foods of Hanover, Pa.

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