The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

AP story section

November 29, 2012

Twinkies maker Hostess has plenty of suitors

NEW YORK — The future of Twinkies is virtually assured.

Hostess Brands Inc. said Thursday that it's in talks with 110 potential buyers for its iconic brands, which also include CupCakes, Ding Dongs and Ho Hos. The suitors now include at least five national retailers such as supermarkets, a financial adviser for the company said in bankruptcy court. The process has been "so fast and furious" Hostess hasn't been able to make the calls seeking buyers it previously intended, said Joshua Scherer of Perella Weinberg Partners.

"Not only are these buyers serious, but they are expecting to spend substantial sums," he said.

The update on the sale of the company's brands comes as Hostess seeks approval in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York in White Plains, N.Y. to give its top executives bonuses totaling up to $1.8 million as part of its wind-down plans. The company says the incentive pay is needed to retain the 19 corporate officers and "high-level managers" during the liquidation process, which could take about a year.

Two of those executives would be eligible for additional rewards depending on how efficiently they carry out the liquidation. The bonuses would be in addition to their regular pay. A spokesman for Hostess noted executives will need to meet certain goals to get the bonuses.

The bonuses do not include pay for CEO Gregory Rayburn, who was brought on as a restructuring expert earlier this year. Rayburn is being paid $125,000 a month.

Hostess is also seeking final approval for its wind-down, which was approved on an interim basis last week. But the bakers union, Hostess' second-largest union, is asking the judge to appoint an independent trustee to oversee the liquidation, saying that the current management "has been woefully unsuccessful in its reorganization attempts."

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