Aryzta shareholders uneasy over remuneration policy

Food group under pressure to explain payouts to executives

Aryzta chairman Gary McGann speaking during the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Duebendorf, Switzerland. Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

Aryzta chairman Gary McGann speaking during the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Duebendorf, Switzerland. Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

 

Nearly a fifth of Aryzta shareholders voted against the company’s remuneration report at its agm in Switzerland on Thursday, citing a lack of transparency about why some executives received such a high payout.

The dissent centred on a short-term bonus plan for regional executives, which investor advisory group Glass Lewis said rewarded them for simply implementing the company’s three-year cost-cutting scheme to save €200 million, entitled Project Renew.

Glass Lewis had also raised concern about the size of a short-term bonus of 941,000 Swiss francs (€855,000) paid last year to chief executive Kevin Toland.

The baked goods company, which makes burger buns for McDonald’s and owns the Cuisine de France brand here, has been struggling to restructure itself and return to its base business after a credit-fuelled expansion and a loss of valuable business contracts in the US saw it issue a sequence of profit warnings.

Approximately 20 per cent of shareholders voted against the company’s annual compensation report for 2019 at the company’s agm.

In a statement following the vote, the company noted that number of changes that had been made to executive remuneration in response to the investor concern, including “the elimination of share options going forward”.

“On the compensation report [advisory and non-binding vote], the remuneration committee regularly reviews the overall compensation framework and takes into account the feedback obtained from shareholders, proxy advisers, and general market trends,” it said.

Share capital

An even larger number of shareholders, 30 per cent, voted against a resolution relating to how much share capital the company can issue within a set period amid concern it could be too dilutive to investors.

The company said it had already confirmed last month that shares reserved for all share plans, including outstanding and proposed awards, would not exceed 5 per cent of Aryzta’s issued share capital.

Aryzta, which is chaired by former Smurfit Kappa executive Gary McGann, claimed last month to have stemmed the falloff in revenue that has dogged the company for the past two years despite recording further declines at its troubled US arm.

Shares in Aryzta rose by 10 per cent to 98 cent in Dublin following the agm.