NEW YORK — Flowers Foods Inc. has been chosen as the buyer for the majority of Hostess’ bread brands and bakery operations, including the Northwood baking operation.
The $360 million bid submitted by Flowers Foods, of Thomasville, Ga., was declared the highest, best bid prior to a court-ordered action that was to be held Thursday. Because no other bids were received for the bread brands, Flowers Foods was declared the winner without the auction occurring.
Under the deal the Georgia company will get a total 20 bread plants, 38 depots, and the Wonder, Butternut, Home Pride, Merita, and Nature's Pride brands. The deal does not include the former Hostess bakery in Defiance.
A bankruptcy court in New York will decide on March 19 whether to approve the Flowers Foods bid and the deal also will be subject to regulatory approval.
“We are pleased Flowers won the bid for Hostess’ primary bread brands and bakeries without the need for an auction,” said George E. Deese, Flowers Foods’ chairman of the board and CEO.
“Now we move forward with the next step, which is the bankruptcy court review. Following that, the transaction will continue through the regulatory process before it can be finalized. We expect it could be several months yet before it’s finalized.”
Flowers Foods, which makes Tastykakes and Nature’s Own bread, said it will be months before it decides on who it will hire to operate the bakeries the company is on track to acquire.
A total of 160 workers who were members of the Bakery, Confectioners, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International union were employed at the Northwood plant and lost their jobs when Hostess closed all its operations last fall.
On Thursday, the president of the bakery union made a plea to have his members return to their old jobs.
Thursday’s “announcement that Flowers Foods has won the auction for key bread assets, including the Butternut, Home Pride, Merita, Nature’s Pride, and Wonder brands, puts these iconic brands firmly on the path of getting back to business — and will be successful — if the company includes highly trained and experienced BCTGM members in its work force,” union president David Durkee said in a statement.
“The BCTGM is integral to Flowers’ objective to restore these brands, as our members have the experience, expertise, and capability to provide ‘turn-key’ operations going forward. Our goal is to preserve our members’ jobs and the legacy of these timeless bread brands,” he said. “We’ve worked with Flowers on occasion in the past, and would hope to continue a positive working relationship with them. The BCTGM has a well-trained, sizable work force with decades of experience and irreplaceable knowledge, and our members provide Flowers the best chance of success in a seamless revival of operations.”
Hostess, which is in bankruptcy protection, also announced Thursday that Mexico’s Grupo Bimbo had the highest, best bid for its Beefsteak bread brand.
Beefsteak is a regional rye bread available in some states.
Hostess said the $31.9 million bid by Grupo Bimbo, which makes Entenmann’s cakes, beat out a $30 million offer by Flowers Foods.
Hostess has also picked opening bidders for its snack cakes, including Twinkies. Auctions are scheduled to take place in mid-March.