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Hostess bankruptcy judge OKs motion to wind down company

Snack maker says it will fire 15,000 workers today

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Hostess Brands Inc. won interim approval from a bankruptcy judge to shut down and take steps to sell the Twinkie maker’s assets after mediation with its bakers’ union failed to resolve a contract dispute, leaving more than 18,000 jobs at risk.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain today approved Hostess’s request to close at a hearing in White Plains. Chief Executive Officer Gregory Rayburn said 15,000 workers will be fired today so they can start receiving unemployment benefits. Hostess said Nov. 16 that it needed to liquidate because a weeklong strike by its bakers’ union crippled operations.

Hostess officials and union representatives met Tuesday in mediation that Drain requested Nov. 19 in a last-ditch effort to negotiate contract terms that might keep the floundering company afloat. Hostess said last night that the talks failed.

Judge Drain will consider final approval of the wind-down request at a hearing Nov. 29.

Hostess has about 250 employees in northwest Ohio -- at bakeries in Northwood and Defiance and outlet stores in Toledo and Northwood.

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