Wednesday 20 September 2017

Rothschild to explore IPO for Aryzta's Picard

Gary McGann, chairman of Aryzta
Gary McGann, chairman of Aryzta

Mathieu Protard and Julien Ponthus

Financial advisers Rothschild & Co will study strategic options, including a possible flotation or sale, for French frozen food retailer Picard after winning the mandate from its owners.

Picard was bought in 2010 by Lion Capital, which later sold a 49pc stake to Swiss-Irish frozen baked goods maker Aryzta. Picard has about 920 shops across France with annual sales of €1.4bn.

"A mandate was given to Rothschild," one source told Reuters. A second source confirmed the information and said the bank would now assess the various options available for the chain. "There is nothing concrete at this stage. Everything is possible. An IPO is not excluded," the source said, adding that a sale was also an option. Aryzta has said it plans to evaluate alternatives for its 49pc stake in Picard, bought less than two years ago, saying any proceeds would go to strengthening its balance sheet.

Neither Rothschild, Lion Capital nor Aryzta was immediately available for comment.

Earlier this year new Aryzta chairman Gary McGann confirmed that the company is engaged in a review of its investment strategy in joint ventures.

"As part of that review, Aryzta has commenced a process with Lion Capital to evaluate investment alternatives for the Picard business," a statement for the company said. Aryzta bought its stake in Picard in 2015 for €446m but the deal has proved extremely unpopular with shareholders.

The acquisition heightened unhappiness with chief executive Owen Killian, who came under pressure as shares in the company more than halved. In February, McGann announced that Killian would depart the company. Chief financial officer Patrick McEniff and John Yamin, the chief executive of Aryzta's Americas business, also tendered their resignation. An interim cfo, David Wilkinson, has now joined the company.

Reuters

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