Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the just announced Hostess liquidation, one that will be largely debated and discussed in the media, or maybe not at all, is the curious cast of characters and the peculiar history of this particular bankruptcy. Some may not be aware that the company's Chapter 11 (or colloquially known as 22) bankruptcy filing this January, which today became a Chapter 7 liquidation, was the second one in the company's recent history, with Hostess, previously Interstate Bakeries, emerging from its previous protracted multi-year bankruptcy in 2009. What is curious is that its emergence had all the drama of a anti-Mitt Romney PAC funded thriller, with a PE firm, in this case Ripplewood holdings, injecting $130 million in order to obtain equity control of Hostess as it was emerging last time. There were also more hedge funds, investment banks, strategic buyers, politicians involved in this particular story than one can shake a deep fried numismatic value Twinkie at. More importantly, however, as America has been habituated following the last season of the reality TV show known as the presidential election, if Private Equity then "bad." Only this time there is a twist: because it wasn't really PE that was the pure evil in the Obama long-term campaign, it was associating PE with Republicans, and thus: with jobs outsourcing. And here comes the Hostess twist: because Tim Collins of Ripplewood, was a prominent Democrat, a position which allowed him to get involved in the first bankruptcy process in the first place, due to his proximity with the Teamsters' long-term heartthrob Dick Gephardt (whose consulting group just happens to also be an equity owner of Hostess). In other words, the traditional republican-cum-PE scapegoating strategy here will be a tough one to pull off since the narrative collapses when considering that it was a Democrat who rescued the firm, only to see it implode in a trainwreck that has resulted in the liquidation of a legendary brand, and 18,500 layoffs.
Many have asked for it, so here it is: the full list of gentlemen (and ladies) attending this year's Bilderberg conference. Some wonder if like in previous years, when following the group's 2009 and 2010 meetings in Greece and Spain, the host countries have subsequently had to deal with some sad episodes of sovereign insolvency, if 2011 host Switzerland, despite its ironclad Swiss National Bank (except for all those dollars on the balance sheet of course) may be next...
We think it would be somewhat aggressive to suggest that an "in kind" distribution to limited partners by an LBO fund is necessarily indicative of a meltdown in the buyout shop- but only somewhat aggressive. As aggressive as pancreatic cancer? We're not sure. (And since it is the New York Post that is reporting on Bernie's demise, we're not so sure about that either).
In a jarring reminder that hope does not pay scheduled interest payments, Readers' Digest announced it is about to file for bankruptcy. And since bondholders don't accept hope in lieu of cash, the company announced that not only would it not make its $27 million coupon payment but that it would undergo a prearranged Chapter 11 process in which its secured lenders would end up owning the company concurrent with a 75% haircut in their holdings.