Apr 24, 2024 - News

Cooks Venture files Chapter 7 bankruptcy

A photo of a building with three signs for Cooks Venture and a single four-door Jeep parked in the parking lot.

This building is at the address listed as Cooks Venture's place of business in its bankruptcy filing. Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios

Six months after shutting its doors, poultry startup Cooks Venture declared bankruptcy.

  • Its Chapter 7 designation filed Friday means proceeds from the sale of any assets will go to its creditors.

Why it matters: Questions remain about how Cooks Venture spent an estimated $150 million of venture capital and if the Pioneer chicken breed — its intellectual property — will sell to another company.

State of play: The company claimed between $1 million and $10 million in assets, but $50 million to $100 million in liabilities, according to the filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. Cooks' creditors number between 100 and 199.

  • An estimated 90,000 live chickens — with immediate needs of feed, payroll, rent and utilities — were noted in the filing.
  • Blake Evans, who managed the company after it shuttered, signed the documents and served as the designated representative through the bankruptcy process.

Between the lines: The largest equity interest holders listed include Cooks CA (32.9%), and investment firms Tasseo (32.6%) and Cultivian Sandbox (22.8%).

  • Cooks founder and initial CEO Matthew Wadiak held 0.0444% equity and Evans just 0.0024%.

The fine print: Three Cooks Ventures entities — the parent company, plus Cooks Venture Poultry and Cooks Venture Poultry Jay [Oklahoma] — filed bankruptcy paperwork.

  • The Jay entity estimated its assets' value at $500,000 to $1 million.
  • Wadiak still owned 85% of the Jay company, but the parent company had a proxy agreement to control his interest, according to the filing.

The latest: In reaction to the sudden closure of the company last November that left many contract farmers scrambling, state Sen. Bryan King (R-Green Forest) on Wednesday proposed a grant program to the Joint Budget Committee on Special Language.

  • SB82 was meant to create a fund of up to $5 million to provide financial assistance to contract poultry farmers whose flocks are euthanized by the state, as was the case for Cooks Venture farmers.

The bill would have retroactively covered those farmers, but it did not pass the committee.

What we're watching: It remains to be seen if buyers are lined up to take on the Cooks land and buildings, or its chicken breed.

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