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    Tastykake Maker to Buy Hostess Bread Brands

    THOMASVILLE, Ga. -- Flowers Foods Inc. has inked two purchase agreements as a "stalking horse bidder" for certain Hostess Brands Inc. assets. One pact calls for it to purchase the Wonder, Nature's Pride, Merita, Home Pride and Butternut bread brands, 20 bakeries and approximately 38 depots for $360 million. The other deal includes the purchase of the Beefsteak brand for $30 million.

    Both transactions are subject to Hostess' court-approved bankruptcy process. If the court approves Flowers Foods' "stalking horse" bids, they would then be subject to a competitive auction process, which would take place several weeks from now.

    Hostess has asked the court to order that the auction take place on Feb. 28 and that a hearing to authorize the sale to the highest or otherwise best bidders begin on March 5. This schedule and the Flowers proposals are subject to court approval. A hearing to consider approval of the bid procedures motions is scheduled for Jan. 25.

    Hostess selected the Flowers bids after Perella Weinberg Partners, Hostess' financial advisor, conducted a bidding process that involved contacting 169 potentially interested parties, 87 of which signed confidentiality agreements.

    "This agreement is consistent with Flowers Foods' long-term growth objectives to reach significantly more of the U.S. population with its fresh breads, buns and rolls," said George E. Deese, chairman and CEO of Flowers Foods. "We believe these assets would enhance our ability, over time, to provide more U.S. consumers with quality baked foods at a good value through existing and new retail and foodservice customers."

    Thomasville, Ga.-based Flowers Foods is the second-largest producer and marketer of packaged bakery foods for retail and foodservice customers in the United States. It operates 44 bakeries. Among its top brands are Tastykake and Nature's Own.

    "We are pleased with the Flowers offers and look forward to a robust auction process that will allow these iconic brands to continue and to maximize value for all of the company's stakeholders," said Hostess Chairman and CEO Gregory F. Rayburn. "We also continue to negotiate with parties interested in purchasing our snack cake business and remaining bread brands, and expect to select additional stalking horse bidders as soon as reasonably practicable."

    Irving, Texas-based Hostess hung a for-sale sign on its assets when it filed for bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York in White Plains, N.Y. in mid-November. Hostess got the go-ahead to begin shutting down its operations right before Thanksgiving after talks between the company and the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco and Grain Millers Union broke down. The baker's union went on strike Nov. 9, which led Hostess to move forward with its bankruptcy plans on Nov. 16, as CSNews Online previously reported.

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