StarKist complains to court that Bumble Bee didn’t have to sell assets
San Francisco, CALIFORNIA — As a California court mulls how much to fine US tuna canner StarKist & Co for engaging in price-fixing, the company claims it can't sell its $155 million stake in a South Korean bottle maker to help it pay a penalty that could stretch to $100m.
StarKist, which is ultimately owned by South Korea's Dongwon Enterprise, previously said that it could not sell its stake in Techpack Solutions, a maker of glass and plastic bottles, without its lenders' consent. The company's lawyers doubled down on this statement, according to a July 3 filing in San Francisco federal court.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has argued that StarKist should pay the maximum $100m fine while the company has retorted its finances render it unable to pay more than $50m.
The DOJ has suggested that StarKist sell Techpack, but the company has cited "legal, contractual and market-related obstacles" as reasons why such a sale isn't possible.
"DOJ incorrectly assumes, without support, that StarKist’s Techpack shares can be sold, at book value, in order to pay a higher criminal fine. DOJ is wrong," StarKist states.
It goes on to detail that argument across several pages of its motion which are redacted from public view.
"For the same reasons that the court has not asked StarKist to value and sell its manufacturing facility in American Samoa or Ecuador (and did not ask Bumble Bee to sell its strategic assets), it should not require the sale of StarKist’s other non-disposable assets in determining StarKist’s ability to pay a fine greater than $50 million," StarKist's lawyers argue.