Thursday 25 May 2017

Aryzta CEO Killian to quit after shares plummet

Owen Killian is departing from Aryzta
Owen Killian is departing from Aryzta
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Aryzta started the long journey of restoring investor confidence in the troubled Swiss-Irish food group yesterday after announcing the departure of long-serving but embattled CEO Owen Killian.

The company, best known for its Cuisine de France par-baked breads and pastries, is a massive global concern with its roots in the old farmer-owned IAWS (Irish Agricultural Welfare Society).

Up to two years ago, Mr Killian was the country's best-paid CEO, earning €5.5m in 2014.

But a profit warning that sparked a dramatic plunge in the company shares in recent weeks and wiped €1.4bn off the value of the business has made yesterday's exit all but inevitable.

In a dramatic clear-out, chief financial officer Patrick McEniff and the boss of Aryzta's business in the Americas, John Yamin, will also be leaving the company at the end of its financial year in July. Shares in the company rocketed more than 21pc at one stage yesterday - a reflection of how eager investors were for change.

With the search for new top brass set to begin, Aryzta is now effectively operating within a power vacuum.

Chairman Gary McGann - the former CEO of Smurfit Kappa - is not taking on any interim executive responsibilities. He's still relatively new in the post.

Analysts see Aryzta's €446m deal for a 49pc stake in French frozen food firm Picard as a key misstep by the company, which has ultimately led to the management clear-out.

Aryzta yesterday all but signalled its intention to ditch its stake in Picard, announcing a review of its investment strategy in joint ventures.

Irish Independent

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