Arkansas helping group bid for Pilgrim's Pride plant

by Bryan Salvage
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EL DORADO, Ark. — A small group of private entrepreneurs has made an offer to buy the Pilgrim's Pride poultry-processing plant in El Dorado, with the state providing more than half the money, said Gov. Mike Beebe in a televised report. Matt DeCample, a spokesman for Gov. Beebe, declined to say how much money the state was offering, but said part of it might come in the form of economic development incentives, according to The Associated Press.

Mr. Beebe told El Dorado television station KTVE he had met with the group making the offer. He declined to identify those in the group.

A Pilgrim's Pride spokesman said April 14 that the Pittsburg, Texas-based company is now reviewing whether to sell the El Dorado plant and another facility in Douglas, Ga. Scheduled to be idled in mid-May, the plants are closing because Pilgrim's Pride is cutting its production of "low-value, commodity meat," the company said. The company filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy code in December, while it reorganizes its debt. Pilgrim's Pride has already shut down a plant in Clinton, Ark.

Last week at a federal bankruptcy hearing in Fort Worth, Texas, Pilgrim's Pride said it would solicit bids to sell the plants. Under the terms presented to the court, bids are due May 15. If a bid is accepted, a sale hearing would be held on or before June 16, the company added.

In March, Pilgrim's Pride agreed to sell its poultry processing plant in northern Louisiana to Foster Farms for $80 million. Half that cost was paid by the state.

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