McGann finds his hire calling at Paddy Power Betfair and Aryzta

Cantillon: Former Smurfit Kappa chief didn’t have to look far to recruit two new CEOs

Gary McGann: has  hired Peter Jackson, CEO of payments processor Worldpay, as chief of Paddy Power Betfair, and Kevin Toland, CEO of airport operator DAA, as Aryzta’s boss. Photograph: Eric Luke

Gary McGann: has hired Peter Jackson, CEO of payments processor Worldpay, as chief of Paddy Power Betfair, and Kevin Toland, CEO of airport operator DAA, as Aryzta’s boss. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

It’s two years since Gary McGann retired as chief executive of Smurfit Kappa. But he’s had his work cut out recently – having to find two chief executives in the past three months for publicly quoted companies he chairs.

Luckily, though, he hasn’t had to look too far to find the right talent.

News that McGann had need to be quietly searching for a CEO at Paddy Power Betfair surprised the markets this week, when it emerged that Breon Corcoran, who’d led the group for the 18 months since its creation by merger, had decided to step down.

His replacement? None other than Peter Jackson, CEO of payments processor Worldpay, who has been a non-executive director at the bookmaker since the February 2016 deal and, before that, a Betfair board member from 2013.

Profit warnings

Meanwhile, after joining baked goods group Aryzta as chairman last December, McGann was thrown into crisis mode the following month when the Swiss-Irish company issued the latest in a series of profit warnings, leading to a clear-out of top management, including CEO Owen Killian, his chief financial officer Patrick McEniff and head of the Americas business, John Yamin. They all departed at the end of March.

The market was cheered somewhat in May when Aryzta named Kevin Toland, CEO of airport operator DAA, as its next boss. McGann served as DAA chairman from its 2004 establishment until 2009, and, like Toland, is an alumni of UK hotels-to-alcoholic drinks group Grand Metropolitan, which merged with Guinness in 1997 to form Diageo.

Weak side

While Paddy Power Betfair’s interim results, issued on Tuesday, were on the weak side, analysts including Gavin Kelleher at Goodbody Stockbrokers believe that the company’s long-term prospects remain intact. More dramatic surgery is required at Aryzta where McCann’s incoming CEO will have to hit the ground running when he joins in the coming months.

Top of the agenda is a sale of Aryzta’s 49 per cent stake in French frozen foods company Picard, which analysts at Merrion Capital estimate could raise €450 million and help pay down group debt. Then there’s the matter of finding a permanent chief financial officer and Americas chief. That, and working out what bits of the business, built through a series of acquisitions, are worth holding on to and what should be discarded.

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