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Mexican buyer may say, 'Si!' to Twinkies

| Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012, 9:54 p.m.

How do you say “Twinkies” in Spanish?

It's possible that the Hostess Brands' iconic goody will be bought by a business south of the border.

Mexico's Grupo Bimbo, the world's largest bread-baking firm, could be on the short list for acquiring some of the Texas-based Hostess' foodstuffs, according to Forbes. Grupo Bimbo isn't new to the U.S. market; it owns parts of Sara Lee, Entenmann's and Thomas' English Muffins.

Others firms that could be in the running include ConAgra and Flowers Food, the American company behind Nature Valley granola, as well as McKee Foods, baker of Little Debbie snack cakes, the Christian Science Monitor reported.

Pepperidge Farm, a division of Campbell Soup Co., also may pursue the confection, analysts told Fox Business.

The Monitor reports Bimbo has been present during bankruptcy proceedings that have haunted Hostess for a decade, in a bid to further expand its North American portfolio and pad its $4 billion net worth.

According to Forbes, Bimbo put in a low-ball bid of $580 million a few years ago. But Hostess may turn out to be a steal with a reported worth of $135 million today.

Hostess, which also makes Wonder Bread, Ding Dongs and Ho Ho's, will be in a New York bankruptcy courtroom on Monday to start the process of selling itself.

The company, weighed down by debt, management turmoil, rising labor 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.

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 said it's received inquiries about buying parts of the company. But spokesman Lance Ignon would not comment.

Analysts reported 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.

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