SAN DIEGO, CA, February 11, 2004 – Bumble Bee Holdings, L.P. announced today that it has entered into a transaction agreement to combine with Connors Bros. Income Fund (TSX: CBF.UN). The transaction will create the largest branded seafood company in North America, with pro forma revenues of over CAD$900 million for the 12 month period ending September 30, 2003. The transaction was unanimously approved by the Board of Managers of Bumble Bee and the Trustees of Connors.
San Diego-headquartered Bumble Bee is a leading branded canned seafood company, offering a full line of canned tuna, salmon, and specialty seafood products marketed under consumer household brands Bumble Bee, Clover Leaf, and Orleans. The only remaining producer of canned tuna in the continental United States, Bumble Bee’s canning operations are located in Santa Fe Springs, California and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.
Headquartered in New Brunswick, Canada, Connors is the largest producer of canned sardines in the world. Connors’ Brunswick and Beach Cliff brands are the two leading sardine brands in North America. Bumble Bee and Connors have both been leaders in the North American seafood market for over 100 years.
Bumble Bee President and Chief Executive Officer Christopher D. Lischewski will be Chief Executive Officer of the new entity, and the CEO of Connors, Edward McLean, will become Executive Vice President, Sardine Operations and Procurement. Operating headquarters will be maintained in San Diego and Canada.
According to Lischewski, the transaction “creates a diversified North American seafood powerhouse made up of industry-leading brands with number one or two share positions in virtually every canned seafood category.”
He said: “The combination of our respective brands, low-cost operations, and strong management teams should position the company for strong future growth. This will be achieved through continuous operating improvements, product innovation, geographic expansion, and accretive acquisitions.”
Lischewski added that the move is consistent with the strategy outlined in May 2003 when senior management acquired Bumble Bee in partnership with affiliates of Centre Partners Management LLC from ConAgra Foods, Inc. “By combining our business with Connors Bros., we are taking a significant first step at the aggressive top and bottom line growth we had envisioned when we acquired Bumble Bee last year. We are very excited with this important development in the history of our business.”
He said the transaction, scheduled to close at the end of March 2004, would see the eventual merger of nearly all Bumble Bee and Connors Bros. operations and could present expansion opportunities for the San Diego headquarters. “We remain committed to this region and will maintain a strong presence in San Diego,” he said.
The Trustees of Connors will call a unitholder vote for March 19, 2004 to approve the proposed transaction.
Bumble Bee Holdings, L.P., headquartered in San Diego, is a leading branded canned seafood company, offering a full line of canned seafood products. Bumble Bee’s brands have established significant consumer awareness and loyalty based on the superior quality of its seafood products. For more information on Bumble Bee, visit www.bumblebee.com.
Forward Looking Statements
The statements contained in this news release that are forward-looking are based on current expectations and are subject to a number of uncertainties and risks, and actual results may differ materially. These uncertainties and risks include, but are not limited to: availability of resource, competitive pressures and changes in market activity, risks associated with U.S. and international sales and foreign exchange, and regulatory requirements.