ABERDEEN, SC – Northern Beef Packers will be allowed to hire Lincoln International to pursue a stalking horse bid for the Aberdeen-based beef processing facility, according to news reports.

A bankruptcy judge approved hiring the investment banking firm Sept. 16. Northern Beef Packers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July. The company is seeking a "stalking horse" bid, in which one potential buyer makes an initial offer to set the floor for an auction that invites competitive bids. The plant is facing $138.8 million in liabilities and has just $79.3 million in assets, according to court documents. The company laid off most of its employees in July.

The judge also approved a loan for more than $500,000 so the company could pay some bills. Northern Beef Packers is seeking an additional $2.25 million in credit. The company intends to use the money to pay salaries of still-employed plant workers, utilities and legal fees.