First Round: PE killed my Twinkie

Just before First Round’s American contingent abruptly disappeared for a two-day holiday that’s like Christmas but isn’t, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth about the demise of Hostess Brands, owner of the Twinkie, the HoHo, the Ding Dong, the Honey Bun and some other foodstuffs that sound made-up but apparently aren’t.

Naturally, as with most of America’s corporate ills these days, this was all private equity’s fault (thanks, Mitt). Hostess has been owned since 2009 by Ripplewood Holdings, which bought the company on the premise that it would somehow be able to cut a deal with Hostess’s highly unionised workforce.

Clearly that didn’t work out. And no prizes for guessing who the unions think is to blame. “What’s happening with Hostess Brands is a microcosm of what’s wrong with America, as Bain-style Wall Street vultures make themselves rich by making America poor,” said union bigwig Richard Trumka, in what was either a formal statement or an exercise in Romney Tub-Thumper Bingo.

Clearly First Round has nothing but sympathy for the plight of the 18,500 people whose jobs are sadly under threat. But as one whose body is more temple-like than a Freemasons’ gathering in the Parthenon, it confesses to being slightly bewildered by the subsequent outpouring of love and devotion for these dubious-looking sugary snacks (especially since this devotion has manifested itself a little too late to keep the company afloat).

Still, there’s no doubting the best way for private equity to address this reputational challenge head-on: by one of its own swooping to Hostess’s rescue! So we were delighted to see Sun Capital founder Marc Leder confirm in an interview with Fortune that his firm was weighing up a bid for what’s left of the business.

Given the apparent absence of any other possible buyer, Mr. Trumka may have to eat his words if this Sun deal ever does materialise. Though First Round would humbly suggest that this would still probably taste nicer than a Twinkie.