Tuesday 18 June 2019

Aryzta activist's Swiss firm was only set up last month


Aryzta stock has lost about three-quarters of its value this year
Aryzta stock has lost about three-quarters of its value this year
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

The investment company owned by an activist shareholder who has mounted a campaign to block an €800m capital increase by troubled Swiss-Irish food company Aryzta was just established last month.

Last week, it emerged that Gregor Joos aims to amass a stake of at least 3pc through his investment company Larius Capital.

According to documents in the Swiss companies office, Larius Capital was set up on August 17 of this year. It has a share capital of CHF100,000 (€88,900).

Market sources said that it was unusual for an activist shareholder to announce plans to build up a small stake in a highly liquid company. Generally activist shareholders build up a stake before revealing plans to exact change at a company.

Joos is experienced in the financial markets, however. From 2005 until 2008, he was a partner at RBR Capital and an advisor to two equity long-short funds where he was in charge of investor relations and asset-raising.

He also worked as a lawyer at a Zurich law firm. From 2000 until 2005, Joos was the legal counsel at Luserve AG in Lucerne, Switzerland where he was in charge of supporting all legal aspects of alternative investments for "a very large portfolio of single manager hedge and private equity funds".

Bloomberg revealed last week that Larius Capital is seeking co-investors and may try to reach 10pc through alliances with other shareholders. In a letter, he said the Zurich-based company should sell its ailing North American business and its 49pc stake in French frozen-food company Picard Groupe, urging Aryzta to focus more on Europe.

Aryzta stock has lost about three-quarters of its value this year as it tries to reduce a mounting debt load.

The baked goods maker has been trying to sell its stake in Picard without success, and has made multiple profit warnings due to lost contracts and rising costs.

Additonal reporting by Bloomberg

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