“I will approve the sale as requested by the debtors, subject to submission of revised final words.”
This was the decision made on Friday, April 3 by Judge David R. Jones of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas. The debtors he refers to are the portfolio of brands owned by Dean Foods, the country’s largest fluid milk processor. Dean had filed for bankruptcy last November.
The judge’s decision came at the conclusion of a nearly three-hour-long hearing to address objections from unsuccessful bidders for Dean’s assets and negotiate final decisions. Thirty-five organizations had submitted bids to purchase the company’s various processing plants and facilities. On April 1, six bids were accepted.
Over 100 objections were filed between April 1 and April 3 in response to the announcement of the winning bidders. That considered, Friday’s hearing was fairly succinct, as the majority of concerns had already been resolved. Only about 50 objections were ultimately brought before the court on Friday to be mediated.
The final chapter
With Judge Jones’s approval, the sales can now move forward with the decisions made during the hearing and are expected to be completed by the end of April.
Dairy Farmers of America won the largest share, acquiring 44 processing facilities. The other successful bidders were Harmoni Inc., Industrial Realty Group, Mana Saves McArthur, Prairie Farms Dairy, and Producers Dairy Foods.
Across the entirety of Dean’s facilities, 15,000 jobs were at stake. Five of the buyers have committed to rehiring the employees of their newly-acquired plants. Producers Dairy Foods, the purchaser of the Reno, Nev., plant, has not made the same commitment.