Investors rush in for Contessa assets

The trustee selling off the assets of shuttered US Company Contessa Premium Foods received a flood of 40 inquiries from parties interested in purchasing Contessa’s assets during the first 36 hours after the company’s closure went public.

There is an unusually high level of interest, an unusually prompt response, Steve Victor, senior vice president of the trustee, management consulting firm Development

Specialists Inc., told Undercurrent News on Friday.

The 30-year-old shrimp company with reported sales of $100 million shut operations down last week and announced plans to sell its assets, which includes a plant, the company brand and its client list.

Interested parties include not only industry members but also private equity funds, Victor said. “I think the notoriety and the value prospects of these assets are pretty well known,” said Victor after a busy two days of scheduling tours of the company’s facility in Sewickley, California. DSI is in charge of all assets as it operates as the trustee, with the sole purpose of liquidating assets and maximizing the value for the benefit of creditors, Victor said.

Antarctica Advisors, one of the parties assessing investment options for a potential

buyer, is looking very closely at the company brand. “Contessa is a brand that was very very big in the past, especially on the West Coast, and it’s probably known at the retail level for years,” Ignacio Kleiman, managing partner of seafood industry mergers and acquisitions advisor Antarctica Advisors, told Undercurrent. “It costs a lot of money to build that type of awareness…” Second most intriguing asset is the client list, particularly for its robust co-packing business, Kleiman said, later adding that the hard assets — the plant and its equipment — are also of interest.

The plant has in the past been valued at $35 million. When it launched, it was the world’s first leadership in energy and environmental design (LEED)-certified frozen food manufacturing plant at the time of opening in 2007.

Buyers can choose to purchase the entirety of the company’s assets in full or to buy just parts of it, depending on the offers DSI receives, Victor said.

DSI is hoping to move quickly on the sale. “There’s been an assignment to the benefit of creditors, so all the assets have been turned over to DSI as the assignee or trustee, with the sole purpose of liquidating these assets and maximizing value to the benefit of creditors,” Victor said. Buyers also hope for a speedy sale, Kleiman said.

“If you let [the plant] stop operations for too long, then the clients will be forced to look for a supplier elsewhere,” he said.


Undercurrent News ( – 5/5/2014


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