IRVING, TEXAS — Hostess Brands, Inc. was believed to be “putting finishing touches” on a deal to sell its Twinkies brand and other snack cakes for more than $400 million to private equity firms Apollo Global Management L.L.C. and C. Dean Metropoulos & Co., according to The Wall Street Journal.

Citing people familiar with discussions, the W.S.J. said negotiations between Hostess and the two private equity firms picked up steam in recent days. The news comes as Hostess in recent days has announced stalking horse bidders for most of its bread brands and Drake’s snack cakes business.

Headquartered in Greenwich, Conn., Metropoulos has been a “player” in grain-based foods for many years, repeatedly appearing as a buyer or a suitor in the industry. Over the past 25 years, Metropoulos & Co. has invested in and managed several branded consumer businesses assembled through more than 65 acquisitions in the United States, Europe and Latin America involving more than $10 billion. These businesses include Stella Foods, The Morningstar Group, Ghirardelli Chocolate, International Home Foods (Chef Boyardee, PAM, Bumble Bee Seafood, Gulden's mustard and other brands), Pinnacle Foods (Swanson, Hungry Man, Vlasic pickles and other brands), which merged with Aurora Foods (Duncan Hines, Aunt Jemima, Lender’s bagels and other well-known brands), Mumm and Perrier Jouet Champagnes of France, Hillsdown Holdings of the U.K., Del Monte Foods of Mexico among others.

Founded in 1990, New York-based Apollo has grown to become one of the largest alternative investment managers. Apollo acquired CKE Restaurants, Inc., the owner of the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurant chains, in 2010, and was among the suitors for Ralcorp Holdings, Inc. in 2011 prior to ConAgra Foods acquiring the company. As of June 30, 2012, the company had total assets under management of $105 billion.

Earlier this week, Hostess tapped Portland, Ore.-based United States Bakery, also known as Franz Family Bakeries, as the stalking horse bidder for several Hostess brands located in the Northwest, including Sweetheart, Eddy’s, Standish Farms, and Grandma Emilie’s. The purchase price is $28.85 million.

The company also this week selected McKee Foods Corp., Collegedale, Tenn., as the stalking horse bidder for the Drake’s snack cake business of Hostess. Under the agreement, McKee Foods, the maker of Little Debbie snack cakes, would pay $27.5 million in cash for Drake’s and would assume certain liabilities.

Hostess earlier this month selected Thomasville, Ga.-based Flowers Foods, Inc. as the stalking horse bidder for the majority of the assets related to Hostess’ bread business, including the Butternut, Home Pride, Merita, Nature’s Pride, and Wonder brands. That agreement includes, in addition to the brands, 20 bakeries, 38 depots and other assets. The purchase price consists of $355 million in cash, which will be increased to $360 million if certain license rights are included in the sale.

Hostess also has selected Flowers as the stalking horse bidder for the company’s Beefsteak bread brand. The purchase price consists of $30 million in cash for the brand.