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Sunday 30 April 2017

McGann rules out Aryzta cash call as earnings dive

New Aryzta chairman Gary McGann Photo: Mark Condren
New Aryzta chairman Gary McGann Photo: Mark Condren
Owen Killian
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Aryzta shareholders won't be tapped for any fresh cash to help shore up the €2.6bn ailing food giant as it undergoes a sweeping strategic review, chairman Gary McGann has insisted.

He also ruled himself out of an executive role at the firm and said that the Swiss-Irish food group needs to have a "sense of direction" by the end of July.

The veteran executive said that no issues had been identified with the Cuisine de France owner's accounts or balance sheet that raised any concerns regarding its historical financial performance.

Mr McGann - who was appointed non-executive chairman at Aryzta 12 weeks ago - also confirmed that top brass at the company, including ceo Owen Killian, pictured, will now leave the group at the end of the month - sooner than their previously announced summer departure.

Mr McGann, the former ceo of global packaging group Smurfit Kappa, said that remaining management had been placed in an "invidious position" with the current senior executives originally due to stay in place until July.

"By mutual agreement with Owen Killian, Patrick McEniff and John Yamin, we've advanced it to the end of March in order to ensure that we continue to have momentum," said Mr McGann as Aryzta released interim results yesterday.

Mr McEniff was chief financial officer, while Mr Yamin headed up Aryzta's Americas business.

He said that as a result of their earlier departures, that for the remaining management team "there would be no danger of trying to second-guess which people or which person to listen to in terms of the issues at focus".

Mr McGann was speaking to analysts after the company said its underlying revenue in the first six months of its financial year fell 1.6pc to €1.9bn, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation tumbled 31.3pc to €158.5m.

Aryzta also announced that David Wilkinson has been appointed interim cfo. He's joining on secondment from KPMG in Dublin, where he is a senior partner and head of KPMG's advisory practice. He will play an active role in helping to determine Aryzta's strategic direction.

Mr McGann also said that he and the board are satisfied that previous figures that Aryzta reported, as audited by PWC, are "absolutely correct," adding that there's "no doubt" about the group's historical performance.

He said Aryzta has strong cash flow generating capabilities. "I don't see any reason why there would be a cash call."

He said Aryzta would sell its stake in French food firm Picard for the right price.

Irish Independent