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Challenging workers the world over

Canada’s Cooke Aquaculture, and a workers cooperative have submitted their interest in acquire the beleaguered Fripur, Uruguay’s largest processing company.

The tender for Fripur, which shut down its operations from Aug. 19 due to its bankruptcy filing, attracted these two bids, but the judge in charge of the company’s assets sale decided to postpone the process given the existence of “formal defects” in both filings, El Observador reports.

The judge’s objections included Cooke’s submission of some documents in English, and the cooperative’s lack of guarantee of payment, said Francisco Cobas, a lawyer with liquidator of the company.

In the “near future” the bidders will be called to submit their interest again, Cobas said.

If none of the bidders acquires the company “as a whole” for a starting price of $15 million, the company’s assets could be sold separately, he said.

Cooke, which is controlled by CEO and co-founder Glenn Cooke, has built up its business around farmed salmon in North America, Chile, Scotland and Spain. Cooke’s strategy is also to expand in wild seafood.

The owners of the Canadian giant have embarked on an “aggressive” plan for growth that continues to this day, with acquisitions and a strategic search for development opportunities, states Cooke’s website.

The other interested party is a group of about 200 Fripur’s workers, organized under a cooperative to co-manage the company with an external partner.

The cooperative submitted its interest to the judge asking for an exemption of 1% of the basis of the tender, since they do not have the capital, according to local reports.

Fripur’s union leader Jose Umpierrez reportedly said there are negotiations undergoing to successfully restart operations in the plant.

Umpierrez said the possibility of using a public fund for development projects is being considered.

To demonstrate the viability of the project, the cooperative is working with Uruguay’s University of the Republic and with experts from the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, Umpierrez said.