Seneca Foods outbid for Ark. firm's assets

By ANDREA DECKERT - 2/7/2014 4:10:16 PM

Seneca Foods Corp. is not acquiring the operating assets of a canned and frozen vegetable producer after it was outbid for the firm at a bankruptcy auction.

The Marion, Wayne County, company said in December it had agreed to acquire Allens Inc. for some $148 million, subject to an auction and Bankruptcy Court approval.

Allens of Siloam Springs, Ark., issued a press release Friday announcing almost all of its assets will be acquired for nearly $160 million by Sager Creek Acquisition Corp., owned by investment funds managed or advised by Sankaty Advisors LLC and GB Credit Partners LLC. A hearing at which Allens and Sager Creek will seek the required court approval of the sale is scheduled for Feb. 11.

Kraig Kayser, Seneca Foods president and CEO, said his firm was not successful in the auction and that Seneca Foods would be paid a fee for being the stalking horse bidder. He declined further comment.

In 2011, Allens and Seneca Foods entered into a memorandum of understanding contemplating a merger of the two companies in an all-stock transaction. Shortly after, Seneca Foods leaders said the firm likely would acquire Allens, but the companies later announced talks were off.

Allens established a local connection in 2003 when it bought Birds Eye Foods Inc.'s Veg-All line. A year later, Allens bought Birds Eye's Fresh Like canned vegetable business.
In 2006, Allens acquired a large piece of Birds Eye Foods' frozen vegetable business, which included plants in Brockport and the Genesee County towns of Bergen and Oakfield. At the time, the three facilities employed more than 300 workers.

In 2012, Allens sold four of its six frozen vegetable operations, including the three local sites, to the Bonduelle Group, a French firm.

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