A very long and thorough look at Hostess Brands as it goes through bankruptcies and tries to avoid its pension obligations.
Originally posted on Academe Blog:
Just after the New Year, Hostess Brands, the largest producer of baked goods in the United States, filed for bankruptcy. Formerly called Interstate Bakeries Corporation, the company had previously filed for bankruptcy protection in 2004. It emerged from what became the most protracted bankruptcy process in history in 2009 and renamed itself Hostess Brands. The resolution of that previous bankruptcy filing was secured through major concessions by the company’s unionized employees in exchange for equity in the company, infusions of cash from GE Capital and three private equity companies–one of which, Ripplewood Holdings acquired a 50% share of the company–and the termination of public trading of the company’s stock.
Now, just two years after emerging from that historically protracted bankruptcy process, the company is filing for bankruptcy again. Analysts estimate that the company has between $500 million and $1 billion in assets, and the company’s management claims that its biggest liability in securing further investment financing is the $942.2 million that it owes to the Bakery and Confectionary Union and Industry International Pension Fund.
So this bankruptcy filing might seem to illustrate the seemingly oft-repeated situation in which unionized employees demand unreasonable benefits from a company and ultimately drive it into bankruptcy.