A federal bankruptcy judge in Wilmington, Delaware, signed an order today approving the sale of Klausner II to an Austrian company which was the successful bidder on the sawmill located on the outskirts of Enfield.
Last week, according to online court documents filed in the federal system, Binderholz was named as the successful bidder on what was promised to be a “state of the art” sawmill which used European technology.
In her order approving the sale, United States Bankruptcy Court Judge Karen B. Owens noted that the sale “is in the best interests of the debtor, its bankruptcy estate, its creditors and other parties in interest in the bankruptcy case.”
Further in the order Owens wrote, “The debtor has articulated good and sufficient reasons for this court to grant the relief requested in the motion as it pertains to the sale,” and that all interested parties were provided with timely and proper notice of the sale, the hearing on the sale and last week’s auction. “The terms contained (in documents) constitute the highest and best offer for the assets and will provide a greater recovery for the debtor’s bankruptcy estate for the assets than would any other available alternative.”
Owens also said the terms constituted “a valid and sound exercise of the debtor’s business judgment” and that the sale represented “a fair and reasonable offer to purchase the assets under the circumstances of the bankruptcy case. No other entity or group of entities has presented a higher or otherwise better offer to the debtor to purchase the assets for greater economic value to the debtor’s bankruptcy estate than (the) buyer.”
The judge described Binderholz as a good-faith buyer and not an insider. “(The) buyer recognized that the debtor was free to deal with any other party interested in acquiring the assets.”
Binderholz also complied with the bidding procedure order and has not violated the bankruptcy code, Owens said in the order.
The judge said any and all objections to the motion that have not been withdrawn, waived, settled or resolved are overruled “and denied on the merits and with prejudice.”
Halifax County Attorney Glynn Rollins said in a statement sent last week after the initial story documenting the successful bid of Binderholz was published that, “The county is very pleased with the results of the auction. This puts us one more step closer to our goal of having a successful, proven company in ownership and operation of the former Klausner facility. The substantial amount of this bid is a good indication of the commitment of the successful bidder to the completion and operation of the plant.”
He said a closing on the sale should follow soon. “We will continue to work with all parties to that end.”
Binderholz submitted a bid of $83.4 million. Mayr-Melnhof Holz Holding AG is considered the backup bidder with a bid at auction of $82.9 million.
Binderholz is a family-owned company with headquarters in Fugen, a municipality in Austria, which has 13 other sites and around 3,000 employees.
It has five sites in Austria, five sites in Germany, two sites in Finland and two in the United States, which include Live Oak, Florida, and the location in Enfield.
Previous court documents have spelled out Halifax County government’s obligation at the time of closing, which include stipulations that the county deliver consent to the assignment of a railroad lease, consent to the assignment of a private sidetrack agreement and consent to the assignment of a pump station agreement.
At closing, the seller will deliver to the county the $4.6 million, an amount the county and Klausner agreed to in negotiations leading up to a court-approved settlement on the matter.
Klausner was announced by former Governor Beverly Perdue in 2012 as an economic development project which would bring 350 jobs to Halifax County and represented what was to be a $130 million investment.
Construction of the sawmill began in 2014.
Several setbacks and delays occurred during construction over the next several years, and the debtor’s sawmill never became fully operational, which caused a drain on liquidity, previous documents reviewed in the case show.