Montrealer in lone bid for Agriprocessors: report

A court auction for the Iowa packer that had been the largest kosher meat processor in the U.S. turned up just one bidder: a company reportedly led by a Montreal businessman.

The Des Moines Register reported Tuesday that SHF Industries is the sole bidder for the bankrupt and beleaguered Agriprocessors meat packing business and is offering US$8.5 million to the packer’s two main creditors.

The auction was held Tuesday in an Iowa bankruptcy court. SHF Industries’ Des Moines lawyer, Anita Shodeen, declined to name her clients for the Register, which had previously quoted other officials in identifying Hershey Friedman of Montreal as one of SHF’s three principals.

Friedman is known in Montreal as the president of Polystar Packaging, which provides packaging for the food processing, household products, industrial and medical device industries.

A report last week in the Canadian Jewish News quoted Moshe Friedman, who operates Montreal processor Marvid Poultry Canada, as refuting other online reports which claimed he and SHF’s Friedman are related. Moshe Friedman told the CJN he’s not involved in SHF’s offer.

The Register previously quoted court documents as saying SHF is also in no way connected to Agriprocessors’ previous owners, the Rubashkin family, who set it up in 1987 at the former HyGrade meat processing plant at Postville, Iowa, about 120 km northwest of Dubuque.

The plant had supplied kosher meat to major retailers such as Kroger and Wal-Mart before a now-nationally infamous raid by U.S. immigration officials in May last year, in which nearly 400 workers were arrested. Sholom Rubashkin, one of the company’s former top executives, is expected in court this fall to face related charges.

U.S. consumers have previously voiced concerns that a slowdown or halt in production at Agriprocessors would seriously disrupt supplies of kosher meats in the U.S. market.

Register reporter Tony Leys wrote Tuesday that a sale for Agriprocessors is expected to be wrapped up at a court hearing July 15, pending approval by a federal bankruptcy judge.

The newspaper said SHF has agreed to buy the Postville facility on an “as is, where is” basis and has quoted local officials as saying Friedman and his partners plan to resume full production of beef and chicken at the facility.

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