Judge delays ex-Pilgrim's Pride CEO, COO contracts

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - A bankruptcy judge in Fort Worth today delayed -- for a second time -- ruling on consulting agreements with two former executives of Pilgrim's Pride.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Lynn asked court-appointed trustee William Neary and the East Texas company to submit briefs by Feb. 12.

The pacts with former Pilgrim's Pride president and CEO Clint Rivers and ex-chief operating officer Robert Wright became an issue when Neary objected Jan. 23.

Neary said the deals seem to violate legal restrictions on severance pay during bankruptcy.

The judge, after hearing testimony, said Pilgrim's Pride was proposing to buy noncompete agreements -- and wondered if it was appropriate.

Pilgrim's Pride wants Rivers to consult for $83,500 a month for four months. Wright would get $50,000 a month for three months.

The Pittsburg, Texas-based company cited volatile feed costs and high debt from an acquisition in seeking bankruptcy protection.