Hostess says liquidation decision expected Friday

Associated Press Modified: November 15, 2012 at 5:31 pm •  Published: November 15, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) — Hostess Brands Inc. said it likely won't make an announcement until Friday morning on whether it will move to liquidate its business, after the company had set a Thursday deadline for striking employees to return to work.

The maker of Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Wonder Bread had warned employees that would file a motion in U.S. Bankruptcy Court to unwind its business and sell off assets if plant operations didn't return to normal levels by 5 p.m. EST Thursday. That would result in the loss of about 18,000 jobs.

A spokesman for Hostess, Lance Ignon, said the company would likely make an announcement Friday after assessing plant operations Thursday evening.

Hostess, based in Irving, Texas, has already reached a contract agreement with its largest union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. But thousands of members in its second-biggest union went on strike late last week after rejecting in September a contract offer that cut wages and benefits. Officials for the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union say the company stopped contributing to workers' pensions last year.

In an interview with Fox Business, Hostess CEO Gregory Rayburn said many workers have already crossed picket lines this week to go back to work despite warnings by union leadership that they'd be fined.

"The problem is we don't have enough crossing those lines to maintain normal production," said Rayburn, who first joined Hostess earlier this year as a restructuring expert.

Hostess says that production at about a dozen of the company's 33 plants has been seriously affected by the strike. Three plants were closed earlier this week.

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