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Jax Daily Record Friday, Mar. 1, 201312:00 PM EST

Flowers to acquire Hostess bread bakeries

by: Mark Basch Contributing Writer

Flowers Foods Inc. on Thursday won the right to acquire 20 bread bakeries from Hostess Brands Inc., including a Hostess plant in North Jacksonville, after no higher bids emerged in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Flowers in January bid $360 million to buy the former Hostess bakeries, which were shut down in November after Hostess filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Flowers is buying five bread brands from Hostess: Wonder, Merita, Nature's Pride, Home Pride and Butternut.

Flowers made a separate bid to buy Hostess' Beefsteak bread brand for $30 million, but Mexico-based Grupo Bimbo SAB submitted a $31.9 million bid in bankruptcy court. Flowers decided not to try and outbid Grupo Bimbo.

Flowers said that the next step in the process is a bankruptcy court review of the bread operations sale at a hearing scheduled for March 19.

"We are pleased Flowers won the bid for Hostess' primary bread brands and bakeries without the need for an auction," Flowers CEO George Deese said in a news release.

"The transaction will continue through the regulatory process before it can be finalized. We expect it could be several months yet before it's finalized," he said.

Thomasville, Ga.-based Flowers already has a bakery in Jacksonville, where it produces bread and buns under the Nature's Own and Sunbeam brands. The company has not said what it will do with the former Hostess bakery after the deal is finalized.

The Hostess bakery in Jacksonville, where the company produced Merita bread, employed 128 people.

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