Funds advised by the private equity group Lion Capital are to acquire the operating companies of Bumble Bee Foods, a portfolio company of Centre Partners Management LLC.

Bumble Bee is North America’s leading supplier of shelf-stable seafood and one of the world’s top 10 branded seafood companies. The transaction is expected to be completed by year-end.

Lion Captial said that Bumble Bee maintains leadership positions in virtually every segment of the US and Canadian shelf-stable seafood market. The company produces and markets shelf-stable tuna, salmon, sardines, clams and other specialty seafood products that are sold under the Bumble Bee, Clover Leaf, Brunswick, Snow’s, Beach Cliff, King Oscar and Sweet Sue brands.

The company has 1,700 employees across eight facilities in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico and in 2009 generated over US$940m of net revenue.

Lyndon Lea, partner of Lion Capital, said: “We are excited about the opportunity to acquire one of North America’s best-known consumer packaged goods companies and a portfolio of brands that enjoy unrivalled positions with US and Canadian consumers. Led by the iconic Bumble Bee and Cloverleaf brands, the company has achieved an attractive record of consistent revenue growth and superior operating margins, even through economic downturns, through an unwavering focus on product quality, innovation and operational excellence. We look forward to building on the company’s strong brand equity and market leadership to drive further superior financial performance in this attractive food category.”

Chris Lischewski, Bumble Bee chief executive officer, said: “We are proud of the strong track record that we have achieved with Centre Partners and look forward to partnering with Lion Capital, who bring a unique depth of experience investing in branded consumer businesses and the food sector. We believe the combination of our strong brands and proven strategy with Lion’s consumer products expertise will support continued growth of our business and reinforce our market-leading positions in the US and Canada while we work to expand our global footprint.”