Bumble Bee attracts takeover interest from Thai Union, Post -sources

NEW YORK Tue Aug 19, 2014 3:53pm EDT

NEW YORK Aug 19 (Reuters) - Bumble Bee Foods has received takeover overtures from canned tuna giant Thai Union Frozen Products PCL and U.S. packaged foods company Post Holdings Inc in recent months, according to people familiar with the matter.

The largest canned tuna and sardines producer in North America, Bumble Bee Foods is set to launch a sale process in the fall amid strong interest from industry players and has appointed an adviser to assist with that effort, the people said.

Bumble Bee, owned by private equity firm Lion Capital LLP, is seeking a valuation upward of $1.5 billion, the people said, asking not to be named because the matter is not public.

Lion Capital and Thai Union declined to comment. Post could not immediately be reached for comment.

A spokesperson for Bumble Bee said: "Earlier this year, Bumble Bee indicated it would likely be evaluating refinancing options during 2014. Beyond that, the company cannot comment on any speculation regarding these or other options it may be considering at this time."

Thai Union's chief executive told Reuters last week the company was seeking acquisitions to boost sales next year to $4 billion. CEO Thiraphong Chansiri declined to name specific targets.

Post has been aggressively acquiring companies to diversify away from cereal into categories like shakes and protein bars. The foods company has spent around $4 billion on eight acquisitions in less than 18 months.

In April, Post completed its largest deal to date by acquiring food processing and distribution company Michael Foods for $2.45 billion. (Reporting by Olivia Oran in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler)