Hostess May Have Already Found its Twinkies Buyer

At least so says Forbes.

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.

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