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article imageJudge allows Hostess to close doors, sell assets

By Larry Clifton     Nov 22, 2012 in Business
Wednesday, news stories speculating whether Hostess would remain open under court order or be sold and remain open in some capacity proved false after a bankruptcy judge granted approval for Hostess to shut down operations after 82 years.
A last-minute attempt by the striking Bakery Workers union to salvage the jobs of its now unemployed members has failed to produce an agreement and Tuesday, Judge Robert Drain cleared the way for Hostess to begin selling its assets -- including its bakeries, brands and recipes, according to a CNNMoney report.
Instead of taking a pay cut that may have allowed the company to stay in business, approximately 18,500 Hostess employees face the holiday season without jobs.
"Sadly, the parties were not able to come to an agreement," said Drain. "It's a free country. People are free not to agree."
The ruling means that about 15,000 of the company's current 18,500 employees will be terminated within days. Company representatives told the court it needs about 3,200 employees to stay on for various periods of time to wrap up operations and complete the shuttering of hundreds of distribution sites and bakeries.
While there were rumors of a deal to restart the company, bakery operations have been closed since last Friday. Meanwhile, Hostess' CEO and attorneys previously stated that reaching a deal to restart the company's network of 33 bakeries and 565 distribution centers would be difficult due to the financial damage done by the strike that started Nov. 9.
After the court hearing, Hostess CEO Greg Rayburn told reporters that the company would sell the brands as quickly as possible, but he would give no specific time frame for if and when the iconic products could be available to consumers once again.
"The longer we're off the shelves, the less value we're going to get," he said. He said it's difficult to handicap the chances that Hostess workers could be rehired by those who buy assets.
Asked by CNNMoney if the sale would be strictly to the highest bidder or whether the buyer's interest in hiring workers would be a consideration, Rayburn said "You have to try to do both."
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