Hostess Brands, the bankrupt 82-year-old maker of Twinkies and Wonder Bread, is now preparing to sell off its assets.
It's a process that has attracted a flood of interest from "serious buyers (who) are expecting to spend substantial sums," said Joshua Scherer, an adviser to Hostess. He estimates the assets could fetch $1 billion.
Many of the problems that beset the beleaguered snack maker — debt, existing union contracts and potentially some of the buildings — will be not-too-distant memories by the time new bosses step in. But even with bankruptcy's cleansing effect, any new maker of Ho Hos or Ding Dongs will have to invest heavily to transform a 20th-century icon into a company that can compete today.
"I don't think just changing the players is going to solve the problem," said Sam Hamadeh, founder of PrivCo, which provides financial data on privately held companies.
"The new owner will have to invest in ... product innovation for the existing products and modernizing Hostess' plants and baking facilities to incorporate healthier ingredients," Hamadeh said. "It's not the same consumer it was 50 to 60 years ago."
The Hostess Brands that's now dissolving is an amalgam of companies grafted together over eight decades to create one of the largest bakers in the United States.
When Hostess filed for bankruptcy protection in January, it operated 36 bakeries, about 560 distribution centers and 527 bakery outlet stores throughout the United States.
At 83 percent, Hostess' labor force was more unionized than the baking industry average of nearly 50 percent, according to a Teamsters spokesman. But it had fewer union workers than, say, Bimbo Bakeries USA, a major competitor that is seen as a potential bidder for some of Hostess' assets.
Bimbo has consistently declined to comment on Hostess.
The company is seeking to sell assets through a "363" sale, which allows the property to change hands free of liability.