WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) -- A bankruptcy court judge is approving a request by Hostess Brands to begin winding down its operations.

The ruling came Wednesday after the maker of Twinkies and Ding Dongs failed in last-ditch negotiations to end a strike by its second-largest union.

Hostess now has the green light to terminate the jobs of its 18,000 workers and sell off its brands.

In court Wednesday, Hostess said it needed to begin the liquidation process quickly to take advantage of outside interest in its brands, which a banker said could fetch up to $2.4 billion. That's about how much they generate in annual sales.

Hostess, based in Irving, Texas, has been spending about $1 million a day in payroll without any income since it halted operations last week.

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