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All three area Hostess plants have buyers

  • The Kansas City Star
  • Published Wednesday, March 20, 2013, at 2:24 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, March 20, 2013, at 11:03 p.m.

Three former Hostess Brands plants in Lenexa, Boonville, Mo., and Emporia, Kan., all have attracted buyers.

The shuttered plants, sold in court-supervised bankruptcy proceedings, do not yet have information about rehiring or reopening.

Under asset purchase agreements, Flowers Foods is acquiring the Lenexa plant, which formerly employed nearly 200 workers who made Home Pride and Wonder bread and buns.

Flowers, a publicly traded baking company that was founded in 1919 in Georgia, also is acquiring the Boonville plant, which previously employed about 90 workers who produced buns.

The Lenexa and Boonville plants are two of 20 included in Flowers’ purchase agreement. The company already operates 44 bakeries, mostly in the southeast quadrant of the United States. To its existing product stable, it has obtained rights to the Wonder, Home Pride, Nature’s Pride, Butternut and Merita brands in a $360 million deal.

Speaking to investors in New York on Wednesday, George E. Deese, Flowers’ chairman and chief executive, said the company will not share specific plans for the former Hostess properties until the transaction is cleared by regulators.

“We anticipate completing the transaction in the second half of the year,” Deese said. “Because the transaction is not finalized and for competitive reasons, we will not share any specific plans regarding the pending acquisition.”

The Emporia plant is being bought by an investment group of Apollo Global Management and Metropoulos & Co. Those private equity firms already have ownership interests in the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. food chains and in Pabst beer.

The Emporia plant, which was the largest of the three Kansas and Missouri locations, with more than 500 employees, made what some people consider the most famous Hostess brand — Twinkies.

In addition to that brand, the Apollo and Metropoulos investors are getting rights to Ding Dong, Ho Ho and other snack cake brands for $410 million. Evan Metropoulos, a principal investor, said the investors aimed to return the snack products to stores by June.

David B. Durkee, international president of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, which struck Hostess Brands shortly before the company announced its liquidation, said this week that its “highly motivated and skilled workforce’’ wanted to be “partners in the seamless reopening” of the factories.

The National Labor Relations Board ruled in December that Hostess Brands had failed to bargain in good faith with the union.

Subsequently, the U.S. Department of Labor ruled that union members who lost their jobs because of the Hostess liquidation were eligible for job retraining and other federal benefits.

To reach Diane Stafford, call 816-234-4359 or send email to stafford@kcstar.com.

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