NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Hostess Brands -- the maker of such iconic baked goods as Twinkies, Drake's Devil Dogs and Wonder Bread -- announced Friday that it is asking a federal bankruptcy court for permission to close its operations, blaming a strike by bakers protesting a new contract imposed on them.
Hostess' nearly 18,500 workers will
lose their jobs as the company shuts 33 bakeries and 565 distribution
centers nationwide, as well as 570 outlet stores. The Bakery,
Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union
represents about 5,000 Hostess employees.
"We deeply regret the necessity of today's decision, but we do not
have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike,"
said CEO Gregory Rayburn in a statement.
Hostess will move to sell its assets to the highest bidder. That could mean new life for some of its most popular products, which could be scooped up at auction and attached to products from other companies.
Hostess filed for bankruptcy in January, its second trip to
bankruptcy court since 2004. It previously emerged from restructuring in
2009 after a four-and-a-half year process. The company is now
controlled by a group of investment firms, including hedge funds Silver
Point Capital and Monarch Alternative Capital.
Frank Hurt, president of the bakers' union, called the liquidation
"a deep disappointment" but said his members weren't the ones
responsible, blaming the various management teams in place at Hostess
over the past eight years for failing to turn the firm around.
Hostess had annual sales of about $2.5 billion. The company said it had been making 500 million Twinkies and 127 million loaves of Wonder Bread annually before Friday's shutdown.