NEW YORK Jan 16 (Reuters) - Mexico's Grupo Bimbo and a partnership between Apollo Global Management and veteran food executive C. Dean Metropoulos are among the leading candidates to buy Hostess Brands Inc's snack cake brands, according to three people familiar with the matter.
Hostess, maker of the iconic Twinkies and Ding Dongs, would like to announce by Jan. 25 a so-called stalking horse bidder that would set a baseline for an auction and guarantee a buyer, said two other people familiar with the matter.
The sale, which could raise around $400 million or more according to one of the sources, is part of the company's bankruptcy reorganization. Hostess decided to shut down its business and liquidate after a strike by its bakers' union crippled the 82-year-old company.
All of the sources declined to be identified as the process is not public. Grupo Bimbo and Apollo declined to comment, while a representative for Metropoulos was not immediately available to comment.
A spokesman for Hostess declined to comment on potential bidders but said the company expects to name up to five more stalking horses for its various assets.
Hostess said last week that Flowers Foods agreed to pay $390 million for Hostess's Wonder and other bread brands, including Nature's Pride and Butternut. That sale is still subject to a court-supervised auction.
Hostess hopes to fetch more than that from the sale of its cake brands, said one of the sources familiar with the process.
Grupo Bimbo, the world's largest bread maker, already has a large U.S. presence with Entenmann's baked goods, Thomas' English Muffins and Sara Lee bread.
Bimbo had also bid for Hostess' bread business but lost out to Flowers in the race to become the opening bidder.
The auction is being run by Joshua Scherer of Perella Weinberg Partners. A spokeswoman for Perella was not immediately available for comment.