BEIJING (AP) -- China on Monday failed to sell the last remaining assets of the Chinese dairy at the heart of a tainted milk scandal that sickened hundreds of thousands of children, the head of an auction house said.
The assets being auctioned belonged to Sanlu Group Co., one of 22 Chinese dairy companies whose products were found to contain high levels of melamine, the chemical blamed for the deaths of six babies and urinary problems in nearly 300,000 others.
On the auction block were Sanlu's shares in 11 dairy companies, seven of which were controlling stakes, said Yuan Guoliang, chairman of the Hebei Jiahai Auction Co. Ltd.
Representatives of four dairy companies attended the auction in the northern city of Shijiazhuang but they did not cast bids, Yuan said.
The company will step up efforts to attract bidders, Yuan said. Assets offered in the auction included a 70 percent stake in the Tangshan Kangsheng Dairy Company, which had a starting price of 51 million yuan ($7.5 million).
Sanlu was declared bankrupt in February and a court ordered the auction of its real estate holdings, buildings, equipment along with its investment rights and interests in other dairy companies from March 4. Monday's auction had been the fourth and final sale planned.
Beijing-based milk company Sanyuan Group bought up Sanlu's core assets at an auction in early March for 616.5 million yuan ($90 million).
Sanyuan's products were found to be safe during the crisis last year and the company has said it could use its unscathed reputation to improve its position in the market. The company hopes to expand outside Beijing and into Sanlu's old markets in neighboring Hebei as well as Shandong province.
Associated Press researcher Zhao Liang contributed to this report.