Aryzta’s choice for chairman withdraws his candidacy

Andreas Schmid’s appointment was set to be challenged by dissident shareholders at egm

The Swiss-Irish baked goods group, which owns the Cuisine de France and Otis Spunkmeyer labels, has been struggling to halt a decline in earnings, particularly in the US. Photograph: iStock

The Swiss-Irish baked goods group, which owns the Cuisine de France and Otis Spunkmeyer labels, has been struggling to halt a decline in earnings, particularly in the US. Photograph: iStock

 

Embattled Irish-Swiss baked goods group Aryzta said its pick for chairman of the company, Andreas Schmid, had withdrawn his candidacy.

“I had made myself available as a candidate for the chair of the board of directors of an independent company or a company with strong industrial interests,” said Mr Schmid, the former head of Swiss-Belgian chocolate giant Barry Callebaut. “It has become clear after recent developments that this solution is no longer an option. Therefore, I have decided to withdraw my candidacy for the board of directors of Aryzta.”

Last week, Aryzta said it was in advanced talks to be taken over by a unit of US activist hedge fund group Elliott Management, led by billionaire Paul Singer.

The move comes the day before an extraordinary general meeting (egm) is scheduled to take place, at which Mr Schmid’s proposed appointment was set to be challenged by a group of dissident shareholders.

Led by Swiss activist investor Veraison, the shareholders own more than 20 per cent of the company and have been pushing for change for a number of months. The group includes Aryzta’s largest shareholder, Cobas Asset Management.

Share sale

Aryzta has a market value of just over €570 million, with the stock having fallen more than two-thirds in value since the company raised about €800 million in an emergency share sale in late 2018.

The group, which owns the Cuisine de France and Otis Spunkmeyer labels, has been struggling to halt a decline in earnings, particularly in the US, and negative investor sentiment towards its complex capital structure.

The Veraison-led group of investors have called on Aryzta to sell off a further €600 million of assets to reduce debt and “return the business to profitable growth”.