Gary McGann set to join Aryzta as chairman

Move comes in advance of full-year results next week

Gary McGann is former chief executive of Smurfit Kappa  Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Gary McGann is former chief executive of Smurfit Kappa Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

 

Frozen baked goods supplier Aryzta has named Gary McGann, former chief executive of Smurfit Kappa, as its next chairman as the Swiss-based company grapples with a 51 per cent slump in its market value over the past two years.

The owner of Cuisine de France, led by chief executive Owen Killian, is set next week to post full-year figures for the year to July, with analysts forecasting its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation dropped 2.2 per cent to €623.9 million.

Aryzta announced the successor to current chairman Denis Lucey, subject to shareholder approval in December, after European markets closed on Thursday. Earlier in the day, the company had declined to comment when The Irish Times put questions to it on Mr McGann’s imminent appointment, while Mr McGann could not be reached for comment at the time.

The announcement was originally not due to be made until the group’s results were unveiled.

Formed under the 2007 merger of the Irish Agricultural Wholesale Society (IAWS) and Swiss group Hiestand, has seen its share price slide in the past two years amid flagging investor confidence in the performance of its US arm, amid big contract losses.

Shares slumped in one week alone in March after Aryzta missed its own revenue targets and Mr Killian announced he had sold €16 million of shares in the business, equivalent to two-thirds of his total stake. He said at the time, however, that the move did not reflect his confidence in the group but that it had been triggered by the decline in the “collateral value” of the shares.

Mr McGann retired as chief executive of Smurfit Kappa in late 2015 after 17 years with the group, including 13 years at the helm. He previously worked as chief executive of Aer Lingus.

Mr McGann is currently chairman of Paddy Power Betfair, formed through a merger earlier this year to become one largest sports betting and gaming groups in the world.

Meanwhile, Aryzta also named Rolf Watter, a partner with Zurich law firm Bar & Karrer who specialises in mergers and acquisitions and capital markets transactions, as a non-executive director.

“Gary and Rolf bring a wealth of experience, expertise and capability which will serve the board and the shareholders,” outgoing Aryzta Mr Lucey said.