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Rivals seek to write Patrick Dempsey out of Tully's Coffee script

Tully's had accepted the 'Grey's Anatomy' actor's $9.15-million bid in a Jan. 3 auction, but other bidders have challenged the decision in Bankruptcy Court.

January 10, 2013|By Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times
  • Actor Patrick Dempsey, right, tweeted a photo of himself and a worker at a Seattle Tully's Coffee location.
Actor Patrick Dempsey, right, tweeted a photo of himself and a worker at… (Patrick Dempsey )

Patrick Dempsey may enjoy the return Thursday of the "Grey's Anatomy" TV series, but the would-be owner of the Tully's Coffee chain will be in a more somber mood Friday as a U.S. bankruptcy judge decides whether the actor's bid for the Seattle firm wins out.

Last week, Dempsey, nicknamed McDreamy by his adoring fans, triumphantly announced that the company had chosen his $9.15-million bid. Dempsey's group, Global Baristas, said it would keep Tully's name and preserve its more than 500 jobs.

Some of the six other bidders now say they won't go away without a tussle for the company, which owns 47 shops in Washington and California.

AgriNurture Inc., a food producer and distributor based in the Philippines, wrote in a court filing this week that it was willing to proceed with its bid. The company offered to acquire any Tully's shops not taken over in a separate bid from Starbucks Corp., which is seeking to convert 25 Tully's to its own brand. Together, the bids amount to $10.56 million — or $1.41 million more than Dempsey's.

AgriNurture, which runs six Tully's franchises in the Philippines, said it "understands that Starbucks is prepared to proceed."

Finance group Kachi Partners, which managed a bid for Tully's from Neon T Coffee Shops, also filed a document contesting Dempsey's victory.

The Jan. 3 auction for Tully's had "substantial irregularities and the purchase price, to the benefit of all the debtor's constituents, could have been — and could still be — at least $1.4 million higher," wrote Shawn Hallinan, a Kachi vice president.

And founder Tom T. O'Keefe, who owns more than 5% of Tully's common stock, said in his filing that he supported "restarting" the bidding process.

The Bankruptcy Court judge in Seattle will hear arguments Friday and could rule on the matter during the hearing.

"We remain confident that the court will reach the right decision and find that Global Baristas LLC submitted the highest and best bid," Dempsey said in a statement.

tiffany.hsu@latimes.com

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