Chance remains for Que. beef plant before asset sale

The equipment at Quebec’s now-shuttered Levinoff-Colbex cull cow packing plant goes to auction in about eight weeks — but until then, its owners will entertain offers from buyers interested in rescuing the plant.

The Colbex building and land at St-Cyrille-de-Wendover, in the Centre-du-Quebec region, are still owned by provincial investment financing agency Investissement Quebec and other creditors.

But a consortium of liquidators including Montreal-based C3 (Crescent Commercial Corp.) and Toronto-based TCL Asset Group now owns the Colbex equipment and has scheduled an auction sale on Dec. 2.

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However, TCL’s Terrance Jacobs said Friday the liquidators’ “first approach” remains finding a buyer interested in using all the equipment as is, where is.

Until the auction sale date, he said, TCL will promote the Colbex operation as a possible turnkey purchase.

The building isn’t part of the auction, he said, but “I’d have to say if we were to find somebody to take over the facility in place… I don’t think it would be an issue” for the building’s owners to lease the site to new operators.

TCL’s roster includes the assets of several food processing plants — among them the now-closed Maple Leaf Foods deli meats plant in Moncton, whose equipment goes to auction next Saturday (Oct. 15).

With TCL’s contacts in the food business, it’s “very different” for TCL to seek a new owner for the Colbex operation compared to the plant’s debtors or receivers, Jacobs said.

On its website, TCL bills the Colbex site as Eastern Canada’s largest cull cow slaughter and processing plant, a 56,000-square-foot facility with capacity to process 4,750 cows per week. It also includes, in storage, the equipment from Colbex’s long-closed further-processing plant in Montreal.

Shut since early 2012, the St-Cyrille plant “looks like it was closed down yesterday,” Jacobs said. On its site, TCL notes the facility has had $30 million in upgrades in recent years.

In the wake of the 2003 BSE crisis, Quebec’s cattle producer group, the Federation des producteurs de bovins du Quebec (FPBQ), bought an 80 per cent stake in the plant in 2007 and began paying 42 per cents per pound for cattle delivered there.

The FPBQ then voted in 2008 to contribute $53.86 per cull cow for a new capital injection into the facility. But the plant went into receivership in May 2012, shortly after shutting its doors indefinitely, leaving producers on the hook for the $53.86 levy through 2014.

A cattle producers’ co-op, the Cooperative d’abattage du Quebec, proposed a new business plan for the plant this summer to Investissement Quebec, but the group’s offer was rejected in favour of the liquidation firms’ bid. — Network

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