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Apollo, Metropoulos submit $410 million offer for Hostess Twinkies

(Reuters) - Hostess Brands Inc said private equity firms Apollo Global Management LLC and C. Dean Metropoulos & Co have set a baseline offer of $410 million to buy the company's snack cake brands including Hostess Twinkies and Dolly Madison.

The so-called stalking horse bid by the private equity firms, working together to buy the 82-year-old baker, would serve as the minimum offer for the business, which could still be topped by others.

Apollo and Metropoulos have agreed to purchase the brands, five bakeries and certain equipment.

The agreement does not require Apollo and Metropoulos to assume any of Hostess Snacks' liabilities or other obligations.

Apollo, founded by banker Leon Black, has previously invested in consumer companies, including CKE Restaurants and Claire's Stores Inc.

"We believe the Hostess Snacks brands we agreed to acquire offer significant potential for renewed growth and expansion into additional channels of distribution," Andy Jhawar, head of Apollo's Consumer and Food Retail Industry Group, said in a statement.

Dean Metropoulos, ranked 360 on the Forbes 400 list of America's wealthiest people, is a packaged foods veteran who was once the joint owner of brands including Duncan Hines baking mixes, Vlasic pickles and Swanson frozen dinners.

"We are pleased to be partnered with Apollo as we seek to resurrect Hostess Snacks and return these legendary products to the American consumer," C. Dean Metropoulos, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Metropoulos & Co. said.

Hostess said late on Wednesday that it would select the winning bidders for the assets of the bread and snack cake businesses at the conclusion of various auctions.

The company has requested that the bankruptcy court in New York authorize it to proceed with an auction for the majority of the assets of the snack cake business on March 13.

The sale to the winning bidder requires court approval.

Hostess was granted permission by a U.S. bankruptcy court judge in November to wind down its business and liquidate its assets after a strike by a baker's union crippled the company's operations.

Hostess Brands has previously reached stalking horse agreements worth an aggregate purchase price of more than $440 million to sell the majority of the assets related to its bread business, including Butternut, Home Pride, Merita and Nature's Pride.

"The stalking horse bids have set a floor of more than $850 million for the bulk of the company's assets," Hostess Brands Chief Executive Gregory Rayburn said.

The sale of assets, which range from Twinkies and Wonder bread to real estate and baking equipment, is being run by Perella Weinberg Partners.

The case is In re: Hostess Brands Inc et al, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York, No. 12-22052.

(Reporting by Sakthi Prasad in Bangalore; Editing by Chris Gallagher and Daniel Magnowski)

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