The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

AP story section

November 29, 2012

Twinkies maker Hostess has plenty of suitors

(Continued)

NEW YORK —

The wind-down process includes the quick sale of Hostess brands, which also include Devil Dogs, Donettes and Wonder Bread. Hostess had already said last week that it was getting a flood of interest from potential buyers. The company has stressed that a quick sale is necessary to capitalize on the outpouring of nostalgia sparked by the company's liquidation.

"The longer these brands are off the shelves, the less they're going to be valued," Scherer said in a court Thursday. Last week, he had noted that it was a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" for buyers to snap up iconic brands without the burden of debt and costly labor contracts that would come with the purchase of Hostess as a company. Although Hostess sales have been declining over the years, they still come in at between $2.3 billion and $2.4 billion a year.

The company's shuttering means loss of about 18,000 jobs. Hostess said it will need about 3,200 employees as it begins the wind down process, including 237 employees at the corporate level.

In court Thursday, an attorney for Hostess noted that the company is no longer able to pay retiree benefits, which come to about $1.1 million a month. Hostess stopped contributing to its union pension plans more than a year ago.

The company's demise came after years of management turmoil, with workers saying the company failed to invest in updating its products. In January, Hostess filed for its second Chapter 11 bankruptcy in less than a decade, citing steep costs associated with its unionized work force.

Although Hostess was able to reach a new contract agreement with its largest union, the Teamsters, the bakers union rejected the terms and went on strike Nov. 9. A week later, Hostess announced its plans to liquidate, saying the strike crippled its ability to maintain normal production.

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