Thai Union takes bite of Red Lobster

Seafood producer Thai Union has made a US$575 million strategic investment in US seafood restaurant company Red Lobster.

Golden Gate Capital retains its majority shareholding in Red Lobster.

Thai Union is regarded as the world’s largest producer of shelf-stable tuna products with annual sales exceeding THB 125 billion (US$ 3.7 billion) and a global workforce of more than 46,000 people. It says it has taken a 25 per cent interest in the restaurant chain, with the option to acquire an extra 24 per cent through the conversion of preferred shares.

“Red Lobster is an iconic brand, with a leading market position in seafood casual dining and a world-class management team, and has delivered strong performance since Golden Gate acquired it in 2014,” says Thai Union Group CEO Thiraphong Chansiri.

“This investment marks a strategic step to build Thai Union’s direct-to-consumer channel, and will enable us to benefit from the extensive restaurant industry expertise of both the Red Lobster management team and Golden Gate.”

He says Thai Union has worked closely with Red Lobster for more than two decades.

With 40 years’ industry experience, Thai Union has expanded its product lineup to include lobster, shrimp, sardines, mackerel, tuna, salmon and crab. Its brands include Chicken of the Sea, John West, King Oscar and Petit Navire, and it has production units in 12 countries.

JP Morgan acted as exclusive financial adviser to Thai Union for the investment.

Headquartered in Orlando, Florida, Red Lobster claims to be the world’s largest seafood restaurant company. As a private company owned by Golden Gate Capital, Red Lobster has 58,000 employees in more than 700 restaurants in the US and Canada, with a growing international footprint.

Golden Gate Capital is a San Francisco-based private-equity investment firm with more than $15 billion of capital under management. In addition to Red Lobster, investments sponsored by Golden Gate Capital include California Pizza Kitchen, Pacific Sunwear, Payless ShoeSource and Zales.

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