Hostess on comeback trail; Panel calls for end to World Bank ranking

June 24, 2013
FOOD
Hostess treats making comeback

Hostess is betting on a sweet comeback for Twinkies when they return to shelves next month.

The company that went bankrupt after an acrimonious fight with its unionized workers last year is back up and running under new owners and a leaner structure. It says it plans to have Twinkies and other snack cakes back on shelves starting July 15.

Based on the outpouring of nostalgia sparked by its demise, Hostess is expecting a blockbuster return next month for Twinkies and other sugary treats, such as CupCakes and Donettes. The company says the cakes will taste the same but that the boxes will now bear the tag line “The Sweetest Comeback In The History Of Ever.”

“A lot of impostor products have come to the market while Hostess has been off the shelves,” said Daren Metropoulos, a principal of the investment firm Metropoulos & Co., which teamed with Apollo Global Management to buy a variety of Hostess snacks.

Hostess Brands was struggling for years before it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in early 2012. Workers blamed the troubles on years of mismanagement, as well as a failure of executives to invest in brands to keep up with changing tastes. The company said it was weighed down by higher pension and medical costs than its competitors, whose employees weren’t unionized.

— Associated Press

WORLD BANK
Panel calls for end to ranking of countries

An independent panel is recommending that the World Bank scrap a contentious ranking of countries meant to evaluate the ease of doing business.

The annual “Doing Business” report, first published by the World Bank in 2003, ranks 185 countries by aggregating 10 indicators such as starting a business, getting construction permits, electricity and credit, registering property, protecting investors, paying taxes and enforcing contacts.

It has motivated reforms in some countries but has also come under attack by nations that did poorly in the rankings, notably China. The United States, the Washington-based World Bank’s largest shareholder, supports the ranking system.

The independent review, set up by the World Bank and published Monday, concluded the index is open to misinterpretation and listed a host of problems, including the relevance of information gathered.

— Associated Press

Also in Business

l  Britain’s Vodafone PLC has launched a takeover bid for Germany’s biggest cable operator, Kabel Deutschland, as part of its push to dominate media services in its biggest market. Vodafone, a British cellphone company with wide international interests, confirmed Monday it will offer 87 euros per share for Kabel Deutschland, whose management accepted the terms. The deal values the German company at 7.7 billion euros ($10.2 billion), or 10.7 billion euros when including 3 billion euros in net debt.

l  Microsoft said Monday that it would support Oracle software on its cloud-based platforms, a tie-up aimed at improving the rivals’ chances against nimbler Web-based computing companies chipping away at their traditional businesses. The two industry leaders have competed for decades to sell technology to the world’s largest companies. But they face growing pressure from new rivals selling often-cheaper services based in remote data centers, and they are rushing to adapt.

l  J.C. Penney will likely learn in August whether it can sell certain Martha Stewart-branded home goods it has been prevented from stocking due to a lawsuit by rival Macy’s. Closing arguments in the lawsuit have been scheduled for Aug. 1, Macy’s attorney Theodore Grossman said Monday.

l  Luxury retailer Neiman Marcus plans to raise up to $100 million by returning to the stock market with an initial public offering. The plan to go public, announced in a regulatory filing Monday, comes about eight years after private-equity firms TPG Capital and Warburg Pincus bought Neiman Marcus for $5.1 billion. Neiman Marcus has benefited from affluent shoppers who are willing to drop $1,000 for a pair of stilettos. During the recession, Neiman Marcus was not as hurt by the consumer spending pullback as other retailers, because the wealthy suffered less in the poor economy.

l  The only two McDonald’s restaurants in the United States that were serving food prepared according to Islamic law have stopped several weeks after a $700,000 settlement over a lawsuit that alleged the items weren’t consistently halal. The fast-food giant said in a statement Monday that the locations in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, which has a large Muslim population, are no longer offering a halal McChicken sandwich or Chicken McNuggets in order “to focus on our national core menu.”

— From news services

Coming Today

l  8:30 a.m.: Durable goods.

l  9 a.m.: S&P/Case-Shiller home price index.

l  9 a.m.: New-home sales report issued.

l  10 a.m.: Consumer confidence.

l  Earnings: Barnes and Noble, Carnival, Lennar, Smith & Wesson, Walgreen.

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