Hostess says it has over 100 interested buyers

NEW YORK (AP) — Hostess Brands Inc. says it's in talks with more than 100 parties interested in buying its brands, which include

Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Ho Hos.

Those interested parties now include at

least five national retailers such as supermarkets, a banker for the

company said

in bankruptcy court Thursday. The process has been "so fast and

furious" the company hasn't been able to make the calls seeking

buyers it previously intended, said Joshua Scherer of Perella

Weinberg Partners.

"Not only are these buyers serious, but they are expecting to spend substantial sums," he said.

The update on the sale of the company's

brands came as Hostess seeks approval in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the

Southern District

of New York in White Plains, N.Y. to give its top executives

bonuses totaling up to $1.8 million as part of its wind-down

plans. The company says the incentive pay is needed to retain the

19 corporate officers and "high-level managers" during the

liquidation process, which could take about a year.

Two of those executives would be eligible for additional rewards depending on how efficiently they carry out the liquidation.

The bonuses would be in addition to their regular pay.

The bonuses do not include pay for CEO Gregory Rayburn, who was brought on as a restructuring expert earlier this year. Rayburn

is being paid $125,000 a month.

Hostess is also seeking final approval for its wind-down, which was approved on an interim basis last week.

The bakers union, Hostess' second-largest

union, is asking the judge to appoint an independent trustee to oversee

the liquidation,

saying that the current management "has been woefully unsuccessful

in its reorganization attempts."

The wind-down process includes the quick

sale of Hostess brands, which also include CupCakes, Donettes and Wonder

Bread. Hostess

had already said last week that it received a flood of interest

from potential buyers, including from national packaged food

makers, international companies and its own customers, which

include supermarkets and big-box retailers. Hostess sales have

been declining over the years, but still come in at between $2.3

billion and $2.4 billion a year, a banker for the company

said in court last week.

The company's shuttering means loss of about 18,000 jobs.

In court Thursday, an attorney for Hostess noted that the company is no longer able to pay retiree benefits, which come to

about $1.1 million a month. Hostess stopped contributing to its union pension plans more than a year ago.

The company's demise came after years of

management turmoil, with workers saying the company failed to invest in

updating

its products. In January, Hostess filed for its second Chapter 11

bankruptcy in less than a decade, citing steep costs associated

with its unionized work force.

Although Hostess was able to reach a new

contract agreement with its largest union, the Teamsters, the bakers

union rejected

the terms and went on strike Nov. 9. A week later, Hostess

announced its plans to liquidate, saying the strike crippled its

ability to maintain normal production.