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Queens bakery jobs saved by Schumer deal

Hundreds of Queens bakery workers can have their cakes and eat it, too, according to U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D−N.Y.).

The senator announced that a deal was brokered between International Bakeries Corp. and General Electric that allowed the food company to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy without layoffs or liquidation last week. IBC, the parent company of Drake’s Cakes and Hostess baking companies, has facilities in Jamaica, Woodside and Ozone Park that collectively employ more than 400 workers, according to Schumer’s office.

The Drake’s Cakes factory, at 168−23 Douglas Ave. in Jamaica, employs more than 300 people alone, including truck drivers, bakers and other personnel.

“During these difficult economic times, this is a small glimmer of hope in a community that needs it,” Schumer said in a statement. “I was so proud to work with IBC and GE to broker this agreement and am thankful that GE stepped up to the plate to save this company.”

IBC has nearly 800 employees in New York state and workers at sites in the Bronx and Melville, L.I. Its nationwide work force numbers 22,000.

According to Schumer, IBC emerged from its voluntary Chapter 11 reorganization Feb. 4 after the capital infusion from GE enabled the company and its subsidiaries to conclude all the necessary financial requirements to do so.

Representatives of IBC, based in Kansas City, Mo., could not be reached for comment. A spokesman for GE did not return calls.

Rapidly declining sales forced IBC to file for bankruptcy in 2004, leading the company to close several factories and shops across the nation.

Under the $600 million restructuring deal, IBC will receive $130 million of capital from the private equity firm Ripplewood Holdings in addition to $125 million in loans from GE Capital and financing from other credit agencies.

Though GE and IBC had agreed in principal on a deal that would infuse capital into the food company last summer, nothing had been executed by the start of 2009. With IBC’s future looking bleak, Schumer said he personally wrote to GE Capital CEO Michael Neal in January to urge him to complete the agreement.

“The residents of Jamaica can now have their Drake’s cake and keep their jobs, too,” he said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e−mail at ipereira@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 146.

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