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Hostess closes, liquidators poised to move in

Hostess, maker of Twinkies, won court approval to wind down. Who will sell of its brands and factories? Companies called liquidators.

Hostess Brands -- the maker of Twinkies, Wonder Bread, and Ho Hos -- is no more.

Its website says the company is closed, and it’s heading for liquidation after talks with its union failed. Its brands will likely be sold off to the highest bidders.

And, when it’s really the end of the road for a company, in come the liquidators.



Screenshot of the Hostess Brands website


“One minute we’re in the bakery business, the next minute we’re in the retail business, the next minute we’re in the construction business,” says Mark Weitz, president of the industrial group at Great American, which liquidated Borders bookstores, among others.

Companies like his bid for the chance to sell off the bits and pieces of a bankrupt business. And, he says Hostess has a lot to offer.

“From the machinery and equipment to their real estate to their brands and intellectual property,” Weitz says.

Brands like Wonder Bread and Twinkies have a lot of value. That’s different from defunct retailers.

“Someone who bought the Circuit City brand, they probably didn’t pay very much for it,” says Jim Schaye of Eaton Hudson, another liquidator.

Circuit City’s name sold for just $6.5 million, far less than Hostess brands will likely fetch.

The process could take a while. It’s more than just selling off Circuit City’s TVs or Borders' books and closing the doors within weeks. Industrial companies have factories full of expensive, specialized equipment.

“It may take many months to find the prospective buyers,” says Richard Kaye, a vice president at Hilco, which also does liquidations.

Liquidators tend to get a bad rap, but they say they’re not bottom feeders or vultures, they’re just helping creditors and suppliers get some of their money back.

Jim Schaye says at first, his wife didn’t want him to tell people what he does.

“Yeah, well, she got over that pretty quickly,” he says.

Now, companies like his are waiting on the sidelines, hoping for the job of ensuring no Twinkie is left behind.

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If American workers would accept the compensation and working conditions that Chinese workers enjoy, then the hedge fund managers who buy companies like Hostess could make some money. Okay, your piece is about liquidators, but it also repeated the idea that employees and management could not agree, so the company goes bk. Why would the employees put themselves out of work? The real story would explore whether the employees had already given back benefits. Was the company viable before the hedge fund bought in and increased the debt? Did the hedge fund make money on the debt and the bk? How much compensation did managers, executives and hedge fund investors forego?

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