Suitors lining up for Hostess snack cakes

by Eric Schroeder
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IRVING, TEXAS — Multiple media outlets have identified C. Dean Metropoulos & Co. and Apollo Global Management as possible buyers of Hostess Brands, Inc.’s snack cakes businesses.

“We continue to be very engaged in the bidding process,” Daren Metropoulos, a principal at the private-equity firm that owns Pabst Brewing Co., told Bloomberg. “We are working diligently to get a deal done.”

The two private equity firms earlier this month were identified by The Wall Street Journal as potential buyers of the Ding Dongs, Ho Hos and Twinkies businesses. Meanwhile, in December, The New York Post noted that Grupo Bimbo S.A.B. de C.V. was weighing a bid, and McKee Foods Corp., maker of Little Debbie snack cakes, also has been mentioned as a potential buyer.

Hostess has not publically identified any bidders for the business.

“It would be a tremendous opportunity to resurrect these legendary brands and bring them back to the consumer,” Mr. Metropoulos said.

Headquartered in Greenwich, Conn., Metropoulos has been a “player” in grain-based foods for many years, repeatedly appearing as a buyer or a suitor in the industry. Over the past 25 years, Metropoulos & Co. has invested in and managed several branded consumer businesses assembled through more than 65 acquisitions in the United States, Europe and Latin America involving more than $10 billion. These businesses include Stella Foods, The Morningstar Group, Ghiradelli Chocolate, International Home Foods (Chef Boyardee, PAM, Bumble Bee Seafood, Gulden's mustard and other brands), Pinnacle Foods (Swanson, Hungry Man, Vlasic pickles and other brands), which merged with Aurora Foods (Dunkin Hines, Aunt Jemima, Lenders bagels and other well-known brands), Mumm and Perrier Jouet Champagnes of France, Hillsdown Holdings of the U.K., Del Monte Foods of Mexico among others.

Founded in 1990, New York-based Apollo has grown to become one of the largest alternative investment managers. Apollo acquired CKE Restaurants, Inc., the owner of the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurant chains, in 2010, and was among the suitors for Ralcorp Holdings, Inc. in 2011 prior to ConAgra Foods acquiring the company. As of June 30, 2012, the company had total assets under management of $105 billion.

Earlier this month Hostess announced that Flowers Foods, Inc. is the stalking horse bidder for most of the assets of its bread operations. The Thomasville, Ga.-based company also has agreed to serve as the stalking horse bidder for the company’s Beefsteak bread brand.

Hostess is expected to name potential bidders for its snack cakes business by the end of this month.
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