There was a last minute surprise for those who asked a judge to block the sale of the New Energy ethanol plant in South Bend.
Turns out, the sale was actually finalized on Monday of this week (March 18th).
Today, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Miller went ahead with a scheduled hearing on the matter anyway.
“They closed on the purchase Monday, so we’ve said to the judge today, well, we need to have a stay that prevents them from dismantling the plant, from selling the plant, from encumbering it with mortgages or whatever liquidators do,” said Plaintiff Robert Salazar who is the CEO of Texas based Natural Chem. “It’s like you let the fox in the henhouse, the fox is going to eat some chickens.”
The new owner is a joint venture between two liquidators: Canadian based Maynards, and California based Biditup.
“It did concern me a little to find out that the property was divided into two pieces between the real estate and the personal property, went to two different entities,” said Rudy Yakym, Jr. of Cyberlink Technologies, who has expressed an interest in buying the plant from the new owners and restarting production.
“I’m very optimistic that we’re going to be able to put together a deal and also put together a deal that will bring not only the original jobs back, but another 100 or 200 jobs in addition to that with other things we want to do with the property,” said Yakym.
Salazar feels the only way production will be resumed at the plant, is if the court voids the sale, and orders that a new auction be held. “I don’t want to disparage anybody but liquidators liquidate, right?”
Salazar says the new owners “seem to want a very big premium for that plant. In other words, we all felt the plant was worth $8 to $10 million, they got it for $2.5 million because they colluded and now they’d like somebody like us to pay them that $8 to $10 million, well we’re not going to do that.”
Salazar instead chose to challenge the way the January ethanol plant auction was conducted. “I’d rather spend $2 million on legal proceedings and win, rather than pay them $5 or $6 million.”
Today, the judge took the matter under advisement and said he intended to rule by Monday at the latest.