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Hostess Said to Attract Bids From Wal-Mart, Kroger

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Hostess Said to Attract First-Round Bids From Wal-Mart, Kroger
Hostess Brands Inc. Twinkies snacks sit on a shelf inside the company's outlet store in Peoria, Illinois, on Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Dec. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Kroger Co. are among the bidders for assets being sold by Hostess Brands Inc., the bankrupt maker of Wonder bread and Twinkies, said a person familiar with the matter.

There are about two dozen bidders, said the person, who asked not to be named because the process is confidential. Last month, financial adviser Joshua Scherer of Perella Weinberg Partners LP said the liquidation sale may generate about $1 billion.

A few of the bids are for all the assets, some are for just the cakes or breads businesses, and others are interested in individual Hostess plants or products, according to the person. Other first-round bidders include Grupo Bimbo SAB and Alpha Baking Co., the person said.

The 82-year-old maker of Hostess CupCakes, Ding Dongs and Ho Hos said last month that it would liquidate and fire more than 18,000 workers after failing to reach agreement with its striking bakers’ union on concessions to help it emerge from its second bankruptcy. Changes in American diets led to years of declining sales at Hostess, while ingredient costs and labor expenses climbed.

Representatives for Hostess, Wal-Mart, Kroger, Alpha Baking and Bimbo declined to comment on the auction process. C. Dean Metropoulos & Co., the private-equity firm that owns Pabst Brewing Co., planned to submit a bid, Daren Metropoulos, a principal at the Greenwich, Connecticut-based firm, said this week. He didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Union Standoff

A standoff with striking union workers triggered liquidation auctions of Hostess’s brands, recipes, plants and other assets. The Bakery Confectionery Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union went on strike Nov. 9 after U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain imposed contract concessions opposed by more than 90 percent of the union’s members. The union represents more than 5,000 Hostess workers.

Hostess emerged from an earlier bankruptcy in 2009 as a private company controlled by buyout firm Ripplewood Holdings LLC and lenders. The company was previously known as Interstate Bakeries Corp. and changed its name to Hostess Brands in October of that year. Hostess entered its latest bankruptcy in January.

The new case is In re Hostess Brands Inc., 12-22052, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (White Plains). The prior bankruptcy was In re Interstate Bakeries Corp., 04-45814, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Western District of Missouri (Kansas City).

To contact the reporters on this story: Jeffrey McCracken in New York at jmccracken3@bloomberg.net; Beth Jinks in New York at bjinks1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeffrey McCracken at jmccracken3@bloomberg.net

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