Activist Group Takes Control At Bakery Giant Aryzta
Shareholders of Aryzta have elected new leadership, shifting control 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.
'Vote For Change'
"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.
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.
Impact On Shares
Shares in Aryzta have plummeted amid management turmoil and the impact of COVID-19. Its stock closed on Tuesday at CHF0.8330, down more than 23% this year, and traded 4.4% down at 09:40 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 CHF1 per share in our view," ZKB analyst Patrik Schwendimann wrote in a note.