UPDATE 1-Flowers Foods extends loans as Hostess sale looms

Mon Nov 19, 2012 9:48am EST

* Increases loan facility that may be used for acquisitions

* Hostess CEO says expects to find new homes for brands

* Flowers shares up 6 percent in early trading (Recasts with background on Hostess)

Nov 19 (Reuters) - Flowers Foods Inc said on Monday it has amended and extended its $500 million loan facility, giving it greater financial flexibility just as its bankrupt rival Hostess Brands Inc entertains bidders for its brands.

Flowers, maker of Nature's Own bread and Tastykake snack cakes, is seen as a potential suitor for some of Hostess' brands, which include Twinkies snack cakes and Wonder Bread.

Flowers shares rose 6 percent to $23.66 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Hostess is heading to U.S. bankruptcy court on Monday for a hearing related to its plan to go out of business after failing to get wage and benefit concessions from thousands of striking bakery workers.

Hostess Chief Executive Gregory Rayburn told Bloomberg TV on Monday that he expects Hostess will find buyers for its brands. Interest has already come from private equity group Metropolous & Co, the owner of Pabst Brewing Co.

"Our family would love to purchase these iconic brands," Daren Metropolous, a principal of the private equity firm, said on Friday. "We are actively pursuing this deal, as no doubt strategics will also."

Flowers did not say whether the amendment to its credit facility was related to a bid for Hostess or any of its brands. A Flowers spokesman was not immediately available to comment on the company's possible interest in Hostess.

Flowers said it amended its $500 million credit facility in a way that gives it a new five-year term and modest improvements in pricing. It also includes options for a one-year maturity extension and additional borrowings of up to $200 million.

The company said the loan may be used for capital expenditures, acquisition financing, refinancing of debts, dividends or share repurchases.

"This amendment to our credit facility positions us to take advantage of an assortment of opportunities as we work to achieve our expansion goals," said Flowers Chief Financial Officer R. Steve Kinsey. (Reporting By Martinne Geller in New York; editing by John Wallace)

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