Activist Group Takes Control At Aryzta

By Donna Ahern
Activist Group Takes Control At Aryzta

Shareholders of Aryzta elected new leadership and shifted control on Wednesday to activist investors who have kept pressure on the Swiss frozen baked goods maker for months as losses mounted well before the pandemic hit.

Election of new directors at an extraordinary general meeting came as Aryzta mulls a takeover approach from private equity firm Elliott Advisors (UK).

Activist shareholders Cobas Asset Management and Veraison Capital had proposed its own slate of directors, headed by baking industry veteran Urs Jordi, who won election at the EGM.

Jordi has said he would sell non-core assets to pay down debt and simplify the company rather than selling it.

"The vote is an overwhelmingly vote for change and a strong vote of confidence in favour of bakery experience which is urgently needed to rebuild Aryzta. Our task is clear and urgent, to leverage this new bakery experience to deliver change and improvement across the business to regain confidence among all stakeholders," Jordi said in a statement.


Elected Members 

Other board members elected include Armin Bieri and Heiner Kamps, who were also named to the board's remuneration committee.

Last week the company, whose products include buns for McDonald's burgers and Otis Spunkmeyer cookies, said it was in advanced talks with Elliott about a potential public tender offer.

Aryzta in April had appointed Rothschild & Co to review its strategic and financial options.

Shares in Aryzta have plummeted amid management turmoil and the impact of COVID-19. Its stock closed on Tuesday at 0.8330 Swiss francs, down more than 23% this year, and traded 4.4% down at 0940 GMT.


"The turnaround remains very challenging, but we expect banks to place trust in the new board. The alternative scenario remains a takeover of Aryzta for at least 1 Swiss franc per share in our view," ZKB analyst Patrik Schwendimann wrote in a note.

News by Reuters edited by Checkout. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.

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