It?s not even Christmas, but Twinkies fans may be able to start looking forward to an Easter present.
Bankrupt Hostess Brands has received a number of bids from companies interested in buying the maker of Twinkies, Ho Hos, and Wonder bread, including retail heavyweights such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Kroger Co, Bloomberg News reported Friday, quoting an unnamed person familiar with the matter.
The person asked not to be named because of the confidentiality of the bidding process, Bloomberg reported.
Bloomberg reported that around two dozen possible buyers had emerged, including Wal-Mart , Kroger ?Mexican bakery giant Grupo Bimbo SAB and Alpha Baking Company.?
Wal-Mart, Kroger and Grupo Bimbo declined to comment ; Alpha did not respond to a request for comment from NBC News.?
?Hostess does possess several iconic American brands,? said Erin Lash,?an equity analyst at Morningstar. Despite concerns about obesity, the snack business is fast-growing, she said. ?We?re not surprised there?s interest in those brands.?
Anthony Michael Sabino, a bankruptcy attorney and a professor at St. John's University, said bankruptcy judge Robert Drain was motivated to move quickly. Bidding will likely take place by early January, since the assets ? if not the treats themselves ? could become stale.?
?I think this will move a at a fairly decent pace. He knows what?s at stake here.?
?You could very well see the sale closing by Valentine?s Day or early March,? he said. ?There?s a very good chance that, by Easter, there are going to be Twinkies on the shelves again.?
Bloomberg said the liquidation sale could yield up to $1 billion. Sabino said it was more likely that the company would be broken up and purchased by more than one buyer, with the snack cakes viewed as the most valuable division. Besides Twinkies, Ho Hos and Wonder bread,?Hostess made its eponymous cupcakes, Ding-Dongs, Sno Balls and the Drake?s line of snack cakes.
It?s too early to tell which bidder will end up as the new owner of the Twinkie. Wal-Mart, in the middle of its busiest quarter, has the advantage from a cash-flow standpoint, Sabino said. ?In terms of ability to crank out the best offer, that might be Kraft or Grupo Bimbo.?
Lash said Kraft didn?t seem to be a likely buyer, though. ?Kraft has been more focused on divestitures,? she said. She also said two other companies speculated to be potential bidders, the Campbell Soup Company and Kellogg?s, were still digesting recent acquisitions and unlikely to add another so soon.?
Hostess shut down its operations last month, laying off most of its 18,500 workers, after failing to come to an agreement with its bakers? union as it tried to emerge from its second bankruptcy in a decade.?