Investor to close down Townsends in North Carolina

Investor to close down Townsends in North Carolina
 
By Rod Smith
 
In a stunning and sudden decision, Omtron Ltd. announced last Friday that it will close down all of the chicken operations that it acquired from Townsends Inc. earlier this year, putting more than 1,000 people out of work and terminating the contracts of nearly 200 growers.
 
Omtron, an equity investor established by Ukrainian billionaire Oleg Bakhmatyuk to acquire assets in the U.S., acquired the Townsends processing plants in Mocksville and Siler City, N.C., in Townsends’ bankruptcy liquidation sale for $24.9 million (Feedstuffs, March 7).
 
Omtron also acquired the two feed mills, hatchery and other facilities and the grower contracts associated with the plants and, at the time, said it planned to expand and ramp up exports of chicken dark meat to Eastern Europe and other points.
 
The company already had invested more than $7 million to upgrade the Siler City plant.
 
However, Bakhmatyuk, without any forewarning, said he is closing everything down around the first of October.
 
“He just decided to shut down and take his losses and go on,” said David Purtle, a former manager at Tyson Foods Inc. who was brought in to run the operations as Omtron’s chief executive officer.
 
“He just didn’t like the environment in this country and the lack of discipline in the chicken industry,” Purtle said, adding that he has never personally spoken to Bakhmatyuk but only to Bakhmatyuk’s representatives.

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