Hostess May Have Already Found its Twinkies Buyer
With the liquidation hearing all but a given today in some court in either New York or Delaware, the possible suitors for the brands of Hostess are already circling readying their builds after the company’s 3,000 union bakers sank the other 15,000 employees last week.
Meet Daniel Servitje Montull. He and his family are worth more than $4 billion by our tally. Servitje runs Grupo Bimbo, a publicly traded bakery concern that ranks as the world’s largest bread maker. (Seated close to Servitje is his uncle, Don Roberto, and his father, Lorenzo. Papa Servitje founded Bimbo with three others in 1954.) Daniel Servitje assumed control of Bimbo in 1997, setting the company on a course of rapid growth. This included a battle with Mexico‘s tortilla don; positioning white bread in Latin American markets; and careful management of Bimbo’s fleet of white delivery vans.
A period of substantial expansion—profits doubled and revenue more than tripled—that also included several flirtations with buying Hostess.
Acquisitions are at the very center of Bimbo. Indeed, Bimbo has gobbled up companies, and this was initially confined to South America. Servitje, a thin man with deeply set eyes, worked to extend Bimbo’s reach from Mexico to the tip of South America, in Patagonia. Thereafter, his attention turned north. He bought Mrs. Baird’s Bakeries of Fort Worth, Texas for $200 million shortly before 2000, then Heiner’s and Earth Grains. And just last year, Bimbo bought the U.S. bakery business of Sara Lee Co. for $709 million, as well as the Spanish and Portugal portions in a separate transaction.
Today, Bimbo is a $10 billion sales business with $200 million in cash on its balance sheet. By contrast, Bimbo posted $3 billion in sales a decade ago; annual profits have more than doubled to roughly $400 million. It competes with U.S. companies like Kellogg, Hershey and General Mills, and with privately held operations such as McKee Foods, the maker of Little Debbie’s snacks. (Other Hostess suitors include Flowers Food, the company behind Nature Valley granola, according to SunTrust.) Supermarkets stock Bimbo staples like Entenmann’s and Thomas’ English muffins. And, significantly, the Sara Lee acquisition suggests that Bimbo’s appetite for U.S. bakeries is hardly satiated.
The first creditor to be paid in any sort of “Brand Sales” will be the union’s own pension fund.
So if the Twinkies survives, all you “horders” who hit up on “last buys” get to called another thing shortly — gullible.