Congressman Faleomavaega announced today his historic meeting of September 4, 2008 with the new owner of Starkist tuna company, Dongwon Chairman and CEO Kim Jae-Chul, who recently purchased Starkist Company from Del Monte Foods for an approximate price of $363 million. It is expected that ongoing negotiations to finalize the sale of Starkist should be completed in the coming weeks, and that part of the deal will provide for a two-year management contract between Del Monte and Dongwon Enterprise, with the intent to completely transition operations to Dongwon's own management group.
“I learned from Chairman Kim that in the late 1960's his first job then was to serve as a captain of a Korean long-liner which operated out of American Samoa. Afterwards, he returned to Korea and established a business, eventually building the first tuna processing company in Korea. The company expanded its operations and now has nine subsidiary divisions in the areas of mortgage financing, food and beverage, dairy farm products, wineries, animal feeds, organic food products, and management and educational programs.”
“I was very impressed with Chairman Kim's sense of being a very humble man,” Faleomavaega said, “especially considering his considerable achievements and rise to prominence as a successful businessman in Korea and now owning a multi-billion dollar company. Given his beginnings in American Samoa, I suggested to Chairman Kim the importance of giving qualified Samoans who have management skills an opportunity to be part of Dongwon's management team. I also suggested the possibility of setting up a management program to train Samoans within the Dongwon management system for the coming two years so after the two-year management contract with Del Monte ends, we will have identified and started training qualified Samoans to be part of Dongwon's management team, as this approach would also help Dongwon build a reputation as a community leader committed to reaching out to the Samoan community.”
“After meeting with Chairman Kim, I also visited Dongwon's tuna processing plant located south of Seoul, and of what I have seen, Dongwon currently exports canned tuna products all over the world, and is noted for its high quality canned tuna. Dongwon’s commitment to quality is good news for American Samoa as, for the past several years now, the executives of the U.S. branded tuna companies have been aggressively working to upgrade their products in order to more effectively compete. Dongwon’s commitment to this process will lead to a more stable and profitable U.S. tuna industry.”
“Also a plus for American Samoa is that Chairman Kim is very familiar with the tuna fishing and processing industry, and has a personal appreciation for our people. Under his leadership, I am confident that StarKist will turn it operations around after being sold twice in less than six years. I am also hopeful that in the coming months we will have a new face and new management team that will truly be a partner with the leaders and workers in our territory. This is why it is my pleasure to welcome Dongwon to American Samoa. Most of all, I extend my kindest regards and appreciation to Chairman Kim for remembering our islands and investing in the future of our people and economy,” Faleomavaega concluded.