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Wall Street Journal: Canned tuna giant Bumble Bee to file for bankruptcy, put itself up for sale

Bumble Bee tuna cans
Source: Wall Street Journal
Group allegedly making filing after being unable to pay off mounting losses associated with price-fixing scandal.

New York, NEW YORK — US canned seafood giant Bumble Bee Foods is planning on filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and place itself for sale, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

The Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, said legal costs stemming from the company's tuna price-fixing and class-action lawsuits were behind the company's financial woes.

In 2017, Bumble Bee agreed to plead guilty to a one-count violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act for its role in a conspiracy to fix the prices of packaged seafood sold in the United States, and pay a fine of $25 million (€21.1 million). Thai Union struck a deal with the DOJ in 2017, and Starkist plead guilty in October 2018.

The company has also been fighting a class-action suit brought against the tuna giants by retailers, consumers and others claiming damages from the alleged conspiracy to set canned seafood prices. Yet another class-action suit was brought against the "Big Three" tuna companies in May, alleging the dolphin-safe labels used by the companies are misleading and fraudulent.

Former Bumble Bee CEO Chris Lischewski's federal criminal price-fixing trial began earlier this month. The executive is being accused by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) of orchestrating the price-fixing scheme.

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