GOULDSBORO, Maine —- A spokesperson with Bumble Bee LLC said Friday that, contrary to what the prospective buyer said last week, the sale of the former Stinson Seafood cannery has not yet been completed.
But Bumble Bee officials are confident that the sale will go through, the spokesperson added.
“The deal has not yet closed,” Bumble Bee representative Erika Ulring said Friday. “They anticipate the closing will happen soon.”
Ulring said Bumble Bee had no additional comment about what has to be done to complete the sale.
On Feb. 18, Live Lobster President Antonio Bussone issued a statement indicating that his firm had completed its purchase of the plant, the financial terms of which have not been disclosed.
On Friday, Bussone declined to comment about Bumble Bee’s statement, but indicated that his firm is moving forward and is unaware of any issues that might further be delaying the completion of the sale. Live Lobster, based in Chelsea, Mass., has been trying to purchase the defunct plant from Bumble Bee since last summer.
Bussone said Friday that he has been in the plant and on Thursday was lining up contractors to help renovate the facility from a sardine cannery into a lobster processing plant. He said he has issued checks for equipment and that Live Lobster plans to appear before the local planning board this coming Tuesday to get municipal approval to renovate the plant.
“We have a copy of the deed,” Bussone said. “I know we have a lot of challenges in front of us.”
The cannery was the last if its kind in the United States and had 128 employees when it shut down last April. Bumble Bee has blamed its closure of the plant on reduced federal catch limits on herring, which are called sardines after being canned.
Live Lobster has indicated it hopes to employ up to 40 people in Gouldsboro this summer with its lobster buying and bait sales operation and that it hopes to start its first lobster-processing operation at the plant within a couple of years.
Live Lobster currently is a lobster distributor and exporter with between 80 and 90 total employees in Massachusetts and at several lobster buying facilities it owns in Maine.