Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Following a series of legal setbacks in recent years, Bumble Bee Foods has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and agreed to sell its assets to a Taiwanese creditor, the company said.
The seafood company announced Thursday as part of the agreement it will sell its assets to Taipei-based FCF Fishery, its largest creditor. It's part of a plan to reduce Bumble Bee's debts and facilitate a sale of the San Diego-based company.
The bankruptcy filing follows years of legal trouble for Bumble Bee Foods. The canned tuna, salmon and chicken producer pleaded guilty two years ago to accusations of price-fixing when it formed a "cartel" with Chicken of the Sea and Starkist. As part of the plea, Bumble Bee agreed to pay a fine of $25 million.
Bumble Bee filed bankruptcy documents in U.S. bankruptcy court in Wilmington, Del.
Under the plan, FCF will acquire the company's assets for about $925 million.
"It's been a challenging time for our company but today's actions allow us to move forward with minimal disruption to our day-to-day operations," Bumble Bee Foods CEO Jan Tharp said in a statement.
"We have an experienced leadership team in place and plan to transform our business in bold and innovative ways that will build a legacy worthy of our proud 120-year-old history."
Bumble Bee said its Canadian affiliate, Connors Bros. Clover Leaf Seafoods Company, will start similar proceedings there and the filing won't affect vendors or consumers.
"It is our clear intent that all U.S. and Canadian operations continue uninterrupted," Tharp said. "Employees will get paid, our customer partners can count on us to continue delivering outstanding brands and services, and vendors will be paid in the ordinary course of business."
Bumble Bee owns about 40 percent of the U.S. canned tuna and sardine markets.