Susan can’t sleep. Faris can’t believe this is how it works. Tyler wants a voice.
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Dean Foods Co. Dean's brand DairyPure low fat cultured buttermilk is displayed for a photograph in Tiskilwa, Illinois, U.S., on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017. Dean Foods Co., is expected to report quarterly earnings on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Retail investors in Dean Foods Co. are fretting about what the company’s recent bankruptcy filing means for them, highlighting the uncertainty that accompanies partial ownership of a firm that goes bust.
Individual shareholders have taken to emailing the federal court overseeing the bankruptcy, fuming about executives, inquiring about legal protection and seeking representation in the case. One investor, Susan Poole, said she had “not been able to eat or sleep” and is willing to travel from Chicago to Texas to head up a shareholder committee.
The emails shed light on an oft-overlooked part of corporate insolvency: the world of bankruptcy, understood by many Wall Street money managers, can be an unknown and frightening place for retail investors. Unfortunately for them, shareholders can often expect no recovery when a company fails.
Wiped Out
“Shareholders are last in line,” said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Phil Brendel. “So if the value of the debtors doesn’t exceed its debts, liabilities and exit costs, they aren’t due a recovery.”
A representative for Dean Foods didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
U.S. bankruptcy law gives shareholders a chance to fight for that recovery, if it’s due. Courts have the power to appoint official equity-holder committees, meaning the costs of the fight — legal fees, financial advisory bills — are paid by the bankrupt company. That’s what some of Dean Foods shareholders are asking for.
Dean Foods, which is the largest U.S. milk processor, filed for bankruptcy in November amid falling demand for dairy products. The company has said it’s in talks to sell itself to milk cooperative giant Dairy Farmers of America, but the deal could face regulatory hurdles.
The case is Southern Foods Group LLC, 19-36313, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas (Houston)
To contact the reporter on this story: Jeremy Hill in New York at jhill273@bloomberg.net
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rick Green at rgreen18@bloomberg.net, Nicole Bullock, Boris Korby

UK stocks slipped on Monday as investors refrained from making risky bets ahead of key central bank decisions this week, while gains in Unilever limited losses on the FTSE 100 after the consumer goods giant announced a new chief executive officer.

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