Hostess May File for Bankruptcy

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Hostess Brands, the seller of Wonder Bread, Ding Dongs, Ho Ho's, Sno Balls, Drakes Cakes and Twinkies, is preparing to file for bankruptcy as soon as this week, according to The Wall Street Journal.

If a filing were to occur, it wouldn't be the first trip through the bankruptcy process for the company, which has made deserts since the 1930s. In 2004, Hostess went bankrupt and stayed in administration for four years until it re-emerged as Hostess Brands in 2009.

Burdened by its liabilities, Hostess reportedly suspended payments on union pensions in December has been struggling to make interest payments on a $700 million loan, The New York Post reports.

The company, which is owned by private equity firm Ripplewood Holdings, is struggling to meet interest payments as investors seek concessions from its near 20,000 unionized employees, according to the Post.

Hostess Brands carries $860 million in debt and millions in additional vendor payments, which jeopardize its $2.5 billion bakeries and deserts-selling businesses.

As Hostess Brands emerged from a 2004 bankruptcy, it fought a 2007 bid from Mexican baked goods giant Grupo Bimbo and Ron Burkle of the Yucaipa Companies.

It exited bankruptcy in 2009 in a deal financed by Ripplewood Holdings, which received a controlling stake in the company for a $130 million capital commitment. General Electric's ( GE) GE Capital division, Monarch Alternative Capital and Silver Point Capital also provided hundreds of millions in rescue financing, the Post reports. With a bankruptcy imminent, the company is now arranging $75 million in debtor-in-possession financing from its lenders, according to the Journal.

In 2010, Forbes ranked it the 167 biggest private company in the U.S. and at the time of its bankruptcy exit, the firm staffed 22,000 employees, according to a press release.

Twinkies, invented in the 1930s by the Continental banking Company, initially had strawberry and banana fillings. During World War II, a shortage and rationing of bananas forced Continental Bakeries to switch the filling to vanilla, a turning point in American junk food lore.

Nearly a half billion Twinkies are reportedly made every year and former President Bill Clinton put a Twinkie in a time capsule, the company says on its Web site.

Twinkie inventor Continental Banking Company had a history that traced back to the 1840s until a 1995 merger with Interstate Bakeries, which then valued the company at $330 million.

The Post reports that with a bankruptcy filing, Hostess Brands could liquidate brands including Hostess, Wonder, Nature's Pride, and Drake's to its lenders.

-- Written by Antoine Gara in New York

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