Texas-based NatureSweet Ltd. has acquired most of the assets of Willcox-based tomato grower Eurofresh Farms in a bankruptcy auction, as proposed under the company’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in January.
The acquisition took place through a special procedure that allows a company filing for bankruptcy to immediately market its assets to bidders. The sale to NatureSweet was was approved Wednesday by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Eileen W. Hollowell.
The total purchase price was not immediately available. Prior to Eurofresh’s bankruptcy filing, a company set up by NatureSweet purchased essentially all of Eurofresh's senior secured debt, about $51 million worth, and signed an agreement to buy the company, subject to higher offers.
NatureSweet planned to submit a bid for $51.2 million, plus any money the company lends to Eurofresh and interest, fees, and costs, Eurofresh’s filing said.
NatureSweet and Eurofresh are two of the leading producers of fresh tomatoes in North America. Eurofresh, which has more than 300 acres of greenhouses in Willcox and Snowflake, also is a leading U.S. grower of greenhouse cucumbers. San Antonio-based NatureSweet grows its tomatoes in central Mexico.
Under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code, mainly used by businesses, debtors are protected from legal actions like lawsuits and foreclosure while they develop a plan to repay creditors.
“This asset acquisition represents a great opportunity for us to continue growing,” NatureSweet CEO Bryant Ambelang said in prepared remarks. “It will help further strengthen our position as the leading producer of premium-branded, best tasting tomatoes and enable us to continue providing customers with top-quality products.”