* To pay $34.4 mln, or $4 per share
* Premium of 148 pct to Tasty Baking's Friday close
* Deal to expand geographic reach (Adds deal value excluding debt, share movement)
BANGALORE, April 11 Bakery company Flowers Foods Inc plans to buy Tasty Baking Co for about $34.4 million in an all-cash deal that bails out the debt-laden maker of Tastykakes.
Flowers Foods, which owns the Nature's Own brand, will pay $4 a share, a premium of 148 percent to Tasty Baking's closing share price on Friday.
In January, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based Tasty Baking said it was looking at options, including a possible sale of the company after facing a liquidity crunch. Its shares have dived about 75 percent this year.
Tasty Baking, which makes cakes, donuts, pretzels and brownies under brands such as Tastykake, Kandy Kakes and Krimpets, is a near 100-year-old company known for its advertising jingle "Nobody bakes a cake as tasty as a Tastykake."
Thomasville, Georgia-based Flowers, led by CEO George Deese, a 47-year company veteran, has grown through 11 acquisitions over the past decade. This latest deal expands its geographic reach by adding about 24 million customers.
Tasty Baking will increase Flowers' market access to about 61 percent of the U.S. population, the companies said in a statement, and will add $115-$125 million to Flowers Foods' 2011 sales, which analysts estimate at close to $2.7 billion.
Shares of Flowers were up 2 percent at $28.25 -- their highest in about two-and-a-half years. (Reporting by Mihir Dalal in Bangalore and Jon Stempel in New York, Editing by Ian Geoghegan)