Defunct Oregon beef packer plans for auction

Chris and Kandi Bartels, who own defunct beef processor Bartels Packing, have closed the business. A trustee is weighing how best to proceed.

A defunct Oregon beef packer is planning to auction its assets because a buyer hasn’t yet committed to purchasing its facilities as a package.

Bartels Packing of Eugene, Ore., shut down in March with a debt of $8.3 million, including $4.6 million owed to cattle suppliers and feedlots.

Although the company estimated the $14 million value of its assets would cover its debts, the closure nonetheless left livestock producers without an important local cattle buyer.

Earlier this summer, however, the possibility emerged of a new owner taking control of Bartels’ slaughter-and-processing facilities as an ongoing enterprise.

A potential buyer had submitted a “letter of intent” to purchase the company’s assets as a package deal, according to court documents filed by Richard Hooper of Pivotal Solutions, the receiver who’s overseeing its dissolution.

That deal is now apparently being called into question.

Hooper is seeking a judge’s permission to sell the company’s assets at an auction because he “has not yet found a buyer that has committed to purchase substantially all of the assets” owned by Bartels in a “package transaction.”

“We’re still chatting with the prospective buyer but we’re also preparing for an auction if that’s what we need to do,” Hooper told Capital Press.

The assets would most likely be auctioned by the James G. Murphy Co. in early to mid-December, which would allow the winning bidders to collect the equipment and other items before a lease on the property expires in January 2019.

Any liens or other encumbrances on the assets would attach to the proceeds of the auction, which is intended to maximize the value of the assets as opposed to “selling the most desirable items piecemeal,” according to the receiver’s request.

Bartels has paid about $624,000 to cattle sellers who had valid USDA trust claims, but other suppliers weren’t eligible for such payments under the federal Packers & Stockyards Act, which generally doesn’t cover livestock transactions based on credit.

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