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Jan. 12, 2013 at 3:21 PM
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Hostess says it has bidders lined up

IRVING, Texas, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- Hostess Brands Inc. said it had stalking horse bidders lined up for many of its assets, giving some iconic U.S. products a chance at a second life.

Hostess is liquidating the company after it said it could not afford to stay open in the wake of a strike by 18,500 bakers while the company was in its second bankruptcy in recent years.

The company threw in the towel in November, stopping production of Wonder Bread, Ho-Hos, Twinkies, and several other famous products.

The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday that Flowers Foods Inc, the second-largest national bread-maker -- which sells 30,000 loaves of bread a day and produces Tastykake Krimpets and Nature's Own whole wheat bread -- had offered $360 million for Wonder Bread and four other Hostess breads.

The purchase would include 20 plants and 38 shipping depots, the Journal said.

As the staking horse bidder, Flowers would be entitled to compensation should it lose out in an auctions for the assets, which would likely take place in February.

Hostess has said it also has stalking bidders lined up for its various snack products, which means most of its brands would have new owners by the end of February.

The new owners could decide whether to resurrect the brands. Some might choose to buy the brands to take them out of circulation.

Greece raises income tax rates

ATHENS, Greece, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- The Greek parliament has approved higher tax rates on lower and higher incomes to comply with terms of its international bailout.

The tax rate for Greeks earning more than $56,000 -- considered the highest income bracket -- will be 42 percent, the BBC reported Saturday.

The tax measure was pushed by the conservative coalition government, which set a target of raising $3 billion during the next two years, Ekathimerini reported.

During debate on the measure, leftist Member of Parliament Panayiotis Lafazanis called Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras a "political terrorist."

The comment and others from members of the SYRIZA party undermined efforts by the left to raise its stature in the eyes of the international community, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said.

"As much as the SYRIZA leader (Alexis Tsipras) tries to appear like a European by talking about serious foreign investments, he is disrobed by the actions and comments of his deputies," Kedikoglou said.

Tsipras -- who is scheduled to meet with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble in Berlin Monday -- said: "The Germans are very practical people. They can see that SYRIZA could be the next government and they want to prepare the ground by having direct contact with us. We want the same.

"What we need are solutions," he said. "SYRIZA wants to have normal relations with the governments that play an important role in Greek and European affairs."

CBI rejects anti-congestion airport tax

LONDON, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- A British bushiness group said it rejected the concept of raising a passenger tax at specific airports to persuade travelers to take alternative routes.

The Daily Telegraph reported Saturday the British Treasury asked HM Revenue and Customs to explore raising the Air Passenger Duty at Heathrow and Gatwick airports near London, as Heathrow is operating at full capacity and Gatwick is projected to hit that mark in six years.

"We're already losing business to other European destinations so we can't kick this into the long-grass," said a representative for the business group, the Confederation of British Industry.

"We need new connections with fast growing markets like China, India and South America -- with space for airlines to put on new flights," the representative said.

Heathrow operators said they oppose the plan that the Treasury said was only an idea being studied as a "research project to inform policy making in general."

The study found raising the Air Passenger Duty selectively -- bumping it up 50 percent for Heathrow and Gatwick airports -- would increase the cost of a flight from New York to London by about $50.

The study also found the number of passengers at Heathrow would drop from 23.1 million per year to 18.9 million. The number would fall at Gatwick from 51.1 million per year to 12.8 million by 2014.

The effects on congestion would be temporary the study found, as other airports would operate at full capacity over time. At Heathrow, for example, passenger traffic would climb back to 23.3 million by 2022, the study found.

AMR asks for reorganization plan extension

NEW YORK, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- U.S. airline owner AMR Corp., parent of bankrupt American Airlines Inc., has asked for more time to file a restructuring business plan, court papers indicate.

Creditor committees have joined the petition for what would be the fifth extension for filing a plan, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

The extension would give the company an additional 20 days to file a plan, which would push the current deadline to April 1.

Concurrently, it is expected that AA and US Airways would soon announce a decision on whether they would join forces.

AA has been studying the option of merging with US Airways but details on talks between the two companies have been shielded from the public by a non-disclosure agreement signed by both parties last August.

Creditor committees and union groups are a party to the discussions but the public has largely been kept out of the loop, The Dallas Morning News said.

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