Canadian firm wins bidding for peanut butter plant

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 26, 2014 at 7:24 pm •  Published: March 26, 2014
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A federal judge Wednesday approved a Canadian company's last-minute $26 million cash offer for an eastern New Mexico peanut butter plant that went bankrupt after a salmonella outbreak and nationwide recall.

But the fight for Sunland Inc. appears far from over.

Lawyers for Hampton Farms of Severn, N.C., which won a first round of bidding for the company last week, were laying the groundwork for an appeal throughout the new auction and hearing where the sale to Golden Boy Foods Ltd. was approved.

At Wednesday morning's bidding, Hampton Farms increased its offer to $25.1 million, but only after making it clear it was doing so under protest and without waiving its right to appeal the ruling that forced the second round of bidding. The hearing to approve the sale was also peppered with motions and testimony aimed at appeal.

Hampton Farms bid $20 million for the plant March 20. But just minutes before a court hearing Friday to approve the sale, Golden Boy Foods called the bankruptcy trustee, Clarke Coll, with a $25 million cash offer.

Coll on Monday asked U.S. Bankruptcy Judge David Thuma to reopen the auction, saying the extra $5 million could determine whether or not unsecured creditors get any money back in the case. Hampton Farms' attorneys asked the judge to honor last week's auction results, arguing it was important to preserve the integrity of the bidding process.

Thuma wrote that he was "loath to disturb the results of the judicial auction," but that he couldn't ignore the extra $5 million or certify the lower bid as in the best interest of creditors.

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