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Twinkies to live on

The tasty cream-filled golden spongecakes known as Twinkies are likely to survive, even though their maker will be sold in bankruptcy court.

Hostess Brands Inc., baker of Wonder Bread as well as Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Ho Ho's, will be in a New York bankruptcy courtroom Monday to start the process of selling itself.

The company, weighed down by debt, management turmoil, rising labour costs and the changing tastes of America, decided on Friday that it no longer could make it through a conventional Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring. Instead, it's asking the court for permission to sell assets and go out of business.

But with high brand recognition and $2.5 billion in revenue per year, other companies are interested in bidding for at least pieces of Hostess. Twinkies alone have brought in $68 million in revenue so far this year, which would look good to another snack-maker.

"There's a huge amount of goodwill with the commercial brand name," said John Pottow, a University of Michigan Law School professor who specializes in bankruptcy. "It's quite conceivable that they can sell the name and recipe for Twinkies to a company that wants to make them."

Hostess has said it's received inquiries about buying parts of the company. But spokesman Lance Ignon would not comment on analysts' reports that Thomasville, Ga.-based Flowers Foods Inc. and private equity food investment firm Metropoulos & Co. are likely suitors. Metropoulos owns Pabst Brewing Co., while Flowers Foods makes Nature's Own bread, Tastykake treats and other baked goods. Messages were left for spokesmen for both companies on Sunday.

"We think there's a lot of value in the brands, and we'll certainly be trying to maximize value, both of the brands and the physical assets," Ignon said Sunday. He said it's possible some of Hostess' bakeries will never return to operation because the industry has too much bakery capacity.

The Canadian Press


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