October 18, 2018 / 7:09 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-StarKist Co pleads guilty to price-fixing charge

(Adds detail on fine, background on U.S. canned tuna market)

WASHINGTON, Oct 18 (Reuters) - StarKist Co, a subsidiary of South Korea's Dongwon Group, has agreed to plead guilty to a charge of price-fixing, the Justice Department said on Thursday.

The company faces a potential fine of $100 million in connection with an agreement to fix canned tuna prices that ran from at least late 2011 to late 2013, the Department said.

The canned tuna market in the United States has long been dominated by three companies. Thai Union's Chicken of the Sea is the largest, followed by Bumble Bee Foods LLC and StarKist. In December 2015, the Justice Department stopped Thai Union Group from buying Bumble Bee.

Bumble Bee agreed in May 2017 to plead guilty to one count of fixing the prices of canned tuna and to pay a criminal fine of $25 million. Two Bumble Bee executives also agreed to plead guilty to price-fixing, as did one StarKist executive. (Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and Dan Grebler)

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