Irish CEO of Aryzta to leave embattled firm after more than a year of turmoil

THE chief executive of Irish-Swiss food group Aryzta, Owen Killian, is to leave the embattled company after more than a year of turmoil at the company.

Shares in the food giant soared nearly 13pc in Switzerland this morning.

Chief financial officer Patrick McEniff and JohnYamin, the chief executive of Aryzta’s Americas bisiness, have also tendered their resignation.

They’ll all step down at the end of the current financial year.

Three new members have been appointed to Aryzta’s executive management with immediate effect.

The new appointments are Dermot Murphy, chief operating officer Europe; Ronan Minahan chief operating officer Americas; and Robert O’Boyle, chief operating officer of the Asia-Pacific and Middle East.

About €1.4bn was wiped off Aryzta’s market capitalisation last month after it issued a profit warning.

Last March, Killian had to offload €16m worth of shares in Aryzta.

It was a move he said was “triggered by the weakness in the share price impacting the collateral value of the share”. He added that being forced to sell was “not indicative of my confidence in or commitment to Aryzta and the achievement of its goals”.

The company’s shares had fallen over 10pc before he sold the stake, ditched by investors as it reported weak first-half results.

This morning, Aryzta, whose chairman is Gary McGann, also confirmed that it is engaged in a review of its investment strategy in joint ventures.

It said: “As part of that review, Aryzta has commenced a process with Lion Capital to evaluate investment alternatives for the Picard business.”

Picard is a French frozen food business.

“Picard is a highly attractive specialist food retailer, which has a unique proposition that is singularly relevant for modern consumers,” Aryzta added.

Aryzta owns 49pc of Picard, together with a call option on the remaining 51pc stake. That 51pc stake is owned by Lion Capital.

Aryzta said that if it sells its Picard stake, the proceeds would be used to strengthen its balance sheet.

Aryzta also said this morning that it has increased the covenant headroom under its senior revolving credit facility, thereby providing the group with enhanced financial flexibility.

“On behalf of the board, I would like to express our gratitude to Owen, Patrick and John for their contribution in building a unique infrastructure with a very strong franchise in the speciality baking industry,” said Mr McGann. “The newly constituted executive management team, together with an improved capital structure, provides stability with an objective to deliver, in time, both performance and growth.”
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