Daily News: January 11, 2012

Hostess Brands Files Chapter 11, Receives Commitment for DIP Loan

Hostess Brands, Inc. announced that the company and its five subsidiaries have filed voluntary petitions for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. Concurrent with the filing, the company said that, subject to court approval, it has received a commitment for $75 million in debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing from a group of its existing first lien lenders, led by Silver Point Capital.

The financing will enable the company to continue routine operations while undertaking a comprehensive financial and operational restructuring to transform it into a strong, competitive company. The company has requested the court to authorize certain actions, including entering into the DIP financing agreement, continuing wages for employees without interruption and maintaining all customer programs.

During the Chapter 11 proceeding, the company will continue operating its bakeries, outlet stores and distribution centers and delivering its products to its customers across the country. The company’s brands, including Wonder, Merita and Butternut breads; Drake’s, Twinkies and Hostess cakes, will be available during the process.

The company also filed a procedures motion to establish a timeline for motions under sections 1113 and 1114 of the Bankruptcy Code to address its labor agreements. “Notwithstanding the procedures motion, we will do everything we can to reach a consensual agreement with our unions to modify our collective bargaining agreements,” president and CEO Brian Driscoll said. “We have engaged in good-faith bargaining with our labor partners for many months. We remain hopeful that we can reach an agreement that will allow us to amend our labor contracts so that we can emerge from Chapter 11 as a highly competitive company that provides secure jobs for our employees.”

The company’s current cost structure is not competitive, primarily due to legacy pension and medical benefit obligations and restrictive work rules. Those issues, combined with the economic downturn and a more difficult competitive landscape, created a worsening liquidity situation that prompted the need for a reorganization.

Hostess Brands said previous efforts to implement incremental change, including a Chapter 11 case that was completed in February 2009, were insufficient. The company’s cost structure left it poorly positioned to respond to a worsening economy, increased competition and consolidation in the industry that has given other bakery companies major economies of scale and workforce advantages.

The Chapter 11 filing is intended to provide Hostess Brands the opportunity to re-engineer the company and, upon emergence, to execute a business plan that will transform Hostess Brands into a competitive wholesale baker that can provide employment on competitive terms and continue to efficiently service all of its customers. The business plan is designed to create a sustainable cost structure with competitive employee benefit plans while allowing the Company to invest in modern systems, fleets and facilities to meet changing customer needs and consumer tastes.

Previously on abfjournal.com:

WSJ: Hostess Preparing to File for Chapter 11 Again, Tuesday, January 10, 2012