Delaware-based Townsends Inc., one of the first and largest U.S. industrial chicken processors, has sold its remaining plants for $76.4 million in a bankruptcy sale.

Townsends blamed its bankruptcy last year on feed-corn prices, which more than doubled because of higher China demand, "crazy weather" that led to poor crops, and the "diversion of our corn crop in the U.S. for ethanol production" under U.S. energy and farm policies, according to Michael Goodman, partner at SSG Capital Advisors L.L.C., of West Conshohocken, which ran the sale.

Proceeds will pay part of the $92 million the Georgetown-based company owed troubled Wilmington Trust Co. and other banks, and the $35 million owed to suppliers and other creditors.

Townsends sold its North Carolina plants and its Georgetown headquarters, which employs about 50, to the Ukraine-based chicken producer Agroholding Avangard's Omtron Ltd. unit, for $24.9 million. Townsends sold its Arkansas plants to Peco Foods Inc., which operates plants in the South, for $51.4 million. Townsends sold its Delaware chicken plants to Mountaire Inc. in 2000.

The Omtron and Peco bids narrowly bested a combined $75 million offer from South Korea-based Harim USA Ltd., Goodman said. The sales are expected to close Friday.

"It was an all-night auction," said SSG partner J. Scott Victor. "Twenty-nine hours," with bids rising a million dollars a round until the Koreans said no.

The Townsends chicken business was started in 1937 by John G. Townsend Jr., a Sussex County lumber dealer and strawberry grower who also pioneered tomato and soybean processing. Townsend, an ally of DuPont Co. magnate T. Coleman du Pont, had previously served as Delaware's governor, and later as U.S. senator. The company remained under Townsend family control until the bankruptcy sale.

Extraction

Hill International, the Marlton construction project manager, "is getting approximately 50 non-Libyan" employees or contractors "out of the country and ceasing project operations," analyst William Sutherland at Boenning & Scattergood, of West Conshohocken, told clients in a report Tuesday.

Hill has been helping expand Libya's university system, but routine work in the North African nation's cities stopped over the weekend as Libya's leader, Col. Moammar Gadhafi, sends air force fighters and mercenary soldiers to kill and terrorize his political opponents, according to news reports.

Libya owes Hill more than $45 million, according to Sutherland. He says he expects work on Libyan college projects will resume this spring once the unrest is over.

In Egypt, "Hill's workforce of 80 are now getting back to projects," including a cancer hospital contract announced on the day earlier this month that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned.

Protestants

Five Pennsylvania Lutheran bishops, backed by more than 200 Lutheran pastors and lay leaders, Mennonite and Methodist ministers, and Jewish, Unitarian, and Episcopal clergy, have signed a letter asking Gov. Corbett to reconsider his proposal to kill adultBasic, the Pennsylvania medical insurance plan that covers 42,000 poor people.

The Lutherans suggested Corbett require Pennsylvania's dominant Blue Cross insurers to impose "a slight increase in premiums" for other working Pennsylvanians as a better alternative to Corbett's plan, which would boost adultBasic families' premiums by "300 percent to 700 percent" - the result of forcing them to choose between far more expensive plans, or going uninsured.

"It has been suggested that faith-based ministries can tend to these people, but that is beyond the capacity of the free clinics and community programs around the state," the Lutheran leaders wrote in their letter.

Corbett did not immediately reply, the Rev. Amy Reumann, director of the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania, said. She said Catholic hospitals and other Christian groups had also been in touch with Corbett's office to express concern that killing adultBasic will put more pressure on nonprofit health-care providers that are already under strain from high unemployment.