Rival bidders for Tully's claim last week's auction ended too soon

SEATTLE -- Actor Patrick Dempsey's bid to buy Tully's may be in jeopardy. Rivals -- including Starbucks -- are claiming the company's bankruptcy auction last week ended too soon.

Dempsey sported a victory smile when he walked into a Tully's last Friday after he had just won the coffee company at a bankruptcy auction with a $9.1 million bid. He pledged to the keep the Tully's name, its 500 employees, and defeating his primary rival Starbucks.

But now in a slew of court filings, creditors and rival bidders including Starbucks are objecting to the bidding process, some saying it ended prematurely.

Even the Tully's founder, Tom O'Keefe filed in support of re-opening of the bidding.

"The shareholders were well served by a complete auction process and it doesn't appear that was the case," O'Keefe said.

Starbucks and its partner offer was over $1.3 million more than Dempsey's. But a source says uncompleted licensing agreements prevented Starbucks from entering a complete bid when the auction ended.

O'Keefe supports Dempsey's efforts to save the company, but says Tully's shareholders, which he is one the largest, are owed the biggest price for the company.

"So the shareholders have an opportunity to receive the greatest return possible, period," O'Keefe said.

Dempsey's team tells KOMO News they abided by the bidding rules set by the court and should be awarded the company. While Tully's management has accepted Dempsey's bid, it will now be up to a bankruptcy to decide if the auction ended prematurely or whether it should be restarted.

Dempsey and all the rival bidders are expected to appear in bankruptcy court Friday afternoon, and that's when the judge may decide if the whole auction process was valid.

More information:

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