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Cuisine de France owner Aryzta hires Rothschild for sweeping review

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Aryzta CEO Kevin Toland

Aryzta CEO Kevin Toland

Aryzta CEO Kevin Toland

Cuisine de France owner Aryzta has hired Rothschild to advise it in a move that suggest no option including a sale or radical restructuring is off the table.

In a stock market announcement the Swiss Irish company said the investment bank had been appointed in April for a review that will run until the end of July.

“The Board of Aryzta announces that in April it appointed Rothschild & Co to under­take a review of all strategic and financial options available to the Group to maximise value for the benefit of all of the Group’s stakeholders.

The review is expected to be concluded by the end of July 2020,” the company said.

Aryzta, led by former DAA and Glanbia executive Kevin Toland had faced huge challenges well before the Covid 19 outbreak, but had been reducing debt and selling off assets including through last year’s exit from most of its 49pc stake in French frozen food supplier Picard for €156m. Aryzta had acquired the stake in 2015 for €446m.

But the earlier pressure on Kevin Toland and Aryzta chairman Gary McGann to reshape the business has now been compounded by a collapse in demand for its baked goods as a result of the Covid-19 economic lockdowns including in the hugely important US market.

Earlier this month Aryzta announced that lenders had waived covenant test in April, a sign on the one hand of a supportive lender group but at the same time highlighting the impact of a sharp fall in revenues.

On Wednesday, Aryzta’s biggest shareholder Cobas Asset Management and a second investor Veraison further upped the ante, demanding changes to help boost the share price, and announcing their tie-up of a combined 17.3pc of shares.

They called for a further streamlining of the group and more-focused activities. The board’s response, that Rothschild is already in situ as advisor suggests even more sweeping action could be in train.

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