Alaska seafood processor sells stake to StarKist owner

AP News
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Posted: Jan 16, 2015 4:32 PM

SITKA, Alaska (AP) — A seafood processor based in Alaska has sold a 12 percent ownership stake to the parent company of StarKist Co., giving the South Korea tuna producer greater access to salmon.

The sale to Dongwon Industries by Sitka-based Silver Bay Seafoods has been public since November, but the Alaska processor outlined details this week to the Sitka Chamber of Commerce.

"I'm sure everyone in this room is familiar with Charlie the Tuna," Silver Bay CEO Rich Riggs told the chamber Wednesday. "It definitely demonstrates that Silver Bay has arrived."

Riggs said that since starting the fishermen-owned processor eight years ago, it has purchased 130 million pounds of salmon, KCAW (http://is.gd/cucFyj) reported.

The sale to Dongwon leaves Silver Bay with capitol for expansion and access to the canned seafood market.

The StarKist brand was previously owned by Del Monte Foods before it was sold in 2008 to Dongwon, which set up a new StarKist headquarters in Pittsburgh.

Silver Bay's sale to Dongwon has reduced each fisherman's ownership stake. But other than that, nothing will change with the processor, Riggs said.

"Not a single fisherman-owner goes away," he said. "It's just a dilution. The management team will stay the same. We'll add two board seats, at least one of which will be a fisherman seat. Otherwise, mechanically from the outside it's the same company, just stronger."

The other additional seat will go to StarKist senior management.

Silver Bay was founded with 35 fisherman and now numbers more than 300 fishermen. The company has grown in Alaska and on the West Coast, and Silver Bay officials are seeking to win approval to buy or lease remaining sections of a former pulp mill site in Sitka to expand its local operations.

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Information from: KCAW-FM, http://www.kcaw.org