S. Korean firm reportedly buying StarKist from Del Monte

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South Korean food group Dongwon said today it will buy canned tuna brand StarKist from Del Monte Foods Co. for about $300 million, in the latest push by South Korean food makers for global expansion, according to a report from Reuters news service.

A spokeswoman for San Francisco-based Del Monte, whose brands include College Inn broths and Meow Mix pet food, said the company would have no comment on the status of StarKist beyond a statement issued last week that it was exploring a potential sale of its seafood operations to Dongwon.

Del Monte, which has a regional headquarters on the North Shore, had said earlier this year that it was exploring strategic alternatives for the unit, which it bought in 2002 from Pittsburgh's H.J. Heinz Co. The division has struggled as the cost of tuna soared.

"The acquisition price will slightly top $300 million," a Dongwon spokesman said by telephone, declining to give further details ahead of a news conference on Thursday, according to the Reuters report. One of the Dongwon Group's units accounts for about 75 percent of South Korea's canned tuna market.



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