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Trident-Ocean Beauty deal off the table

- James Wright
June 01, 2006

Trident Seafoods' bid to acquire Ocean Beauty, which would have made Trident the largest seafood supplier in North America, fell through on May 3. The proposed acquisition, announced just five weeks earlier, would have vaulted Trident's annual sales over $1.5 billion. Both Seattle seafood suppliers will continue to operate independently.

"I have tremendous respect for the owners and employees of Ocean Beauty," says Chuck Bundrant, president of Trident. "We simply were not able to reach an agreement on this transaction."

There are no further discussions planned regarding either the sale of Ocean Beauty's processing assets or a merger of the rival companies' processing operations and smoked-fish distribution businesses.

Trident has actively pursued acquisitions this year. The Ocean Beauty proposal was announced three days before Trident finalized its acquisition of Louis Kemp Seafood Co., the No. 1 retail surimi-seafood brand, from packaged foods conglomerate ConAgra Foods of Omaha, Neb., which has completely divested its seafood and refrigerated meats and cheese businesses. ConAgra Seafood Cos. had 2005 sales of $350 million.

Industry rumors suggested pressures of a federal antitrust review were a factor in calling off the deal. However, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Justice's Antitrust Department would not comment on the issue, nor would the Federal Trade Commission.

The FTC's Bureau of Com­petition is charged with preventing monopolistic practices, conspiracies in restraint of trade and anticompetitive mergers and acquisitions.

Trident operates 18 processing facilities and 25 fishing vessels and at-sea processors throughout the Pacific Northwest. Trident ranked No. 3 on the 2006 SeaFood Business Top 25 list of North American seafood suppliers, with estimated 2005 sales of $800 million.

Ocean Beauty operates smokehouses in Monroe, Wash., and Taunton, Mass.; owns Los Angeles Smoking & Curing Co. and Three Star Smoked Fish Co., both of Los Angeles; and operates seven processing facilities in Alaska and one at Fisherman's Terminal in Seattle.

Ocean Beauty ranked No. 11 on SFB 's Top 25 list of seafood suppliers, with 2005 sales of $500 million.

- James Wright

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