One front-runner to acquire Hostess is Flower Foods Inc. (NYSE: FLO), a Georgia-based bakery company with a market cap of about $3.25 billion. Others include Mexico’s Grupo Bimbo, which bought Sara Lee’s bakery businesses last year, and Campbell Soup Co. (NYSE: CPB), which owns baker Pepperidge Farm.
Unless one of the prospective bidders offers to take Hostess lock, stock and barrel, it could take some time to sort out the best bids. No potential bidder is thought to be interested in the whole company. The brands are the thing.
While no specific names have surfaced, private-equity firms are also believed to be interested in Hostess’s brands, but the difficulty there is that it could take too long to turnaround a profitable sale and, unless the deal includes all the bakeries and workers, the brand’s lustre could well fade by the time the PE guys can cash out.
Many of the company’s union employees wanted Hostess to reorganize under bankruptcy law, believing that they would be able to keep their jobs under a new owner. That reasoning could well turn out to be faulty.