All VeraSun plants on auction block starting next week

All VeraSun Energy Corp. ethanol plants will apparently be on the auction block this month if qualifying bids are received by this Friday, March 13.

That includes the six plants now subject to a “Stalking Horse” bid of $280 million from oil company Valero Energy Corp.

The sale process will also apply to “substantially all” VeraSun assets, including VeraSun’s Albion plant and 10 other plants, although they are not part of Valero’s initial bid of $280 million.

A Notice of Sale was sent to VeraSun creditors and potential bidders in late February, outlining the terms and procedures of the sale.

If qualifying bids are received, the auction would begin next Monday, March 16, and the sale of assets to successful bidder(s) would be held at 12 noon on Wednesday, March 18, at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware.

In February, VeraSun announced that it had received the Stalking Horse bid from Valero Energy Corp. for its plants in Aurora, SD; Charles City, Fort Dodge and Hartley, IA, and Welcome, MN, as well as a development site in Reynolds, IN.

The Valero bid is for VeraSun’s “VSE Group.”

The company also plans to sell four other operating groups during the sale process.

Once able to distill more than one billion gallons per year at its ethanol plants, VeraSun incurred obligations to buy high-priced corn last year just before the grain markets nose-dived. The company filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy relief on Oct. 31, 2008 with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

VeraSun’s Albion plant remained in production until Dec. 19, 2008.