Specialty Italian cheese maker Suprema Specialties revealed yesterday [Sunday] that, together with its three operating subsidiaries, it has filed a voluntary petition with the US Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York for protection under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code.

The Paterson, New Jersey-based firm, which has recently been the subject of a financial investigation by auditing firm Deloitte & Touche, has hired the firm of Nightingale & Associates LLC to assist with its reorganisation.

Suprema's president and CEO Mark Cocchiola has relinquished his position to allow the appointment of Douglas Hopkins of Nightingale as CEO and Chief Restructuring Officer. Cocchiola will remain with the firm as chairman of the board and full-time consultant

Suprema added that its independent auditors have resigned and it has received notificiation from the Nasdaq Stock Market that its common stock will be delisted from Nasdaq at the opening of business on 1 March 2002.

The firm is currently in discussions with its senior secured bank lenders in a bid to secure ongoing funding for its operations during the reorganisation proceedings.