Tuesday 21 November 2017

Aryzta to sell off its entire Origin stake

Aryzta boss Owen Killian
Aryzta boss Owen Killian
Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

Irish-led baking firm Aryzta is to sell off its remaining stake in Origin Enterprises in a deal worth nearly a quarter of a billion euro.

In a statement after markets closed yesterday, Aryzta said it will sell its 36,282,338 remaining shares in the agri business,

At yesterday's share price of €6.80, Aryzta's holding would be worth more than €246m.

Aryzta has been involved with Origin since it was set up. Origin was formed from the rump of the old IAWS back in 2008.

Aryzta, which is based in Switzerland, had held close to 70pc of Origin but sold a more than 40pc of the company in May. Yesterday's sale will represent the equivalent of 29pc of Origin.

Analysts had been expecting the sale for some time. On Wednesday, Origin named two non-executive board members - Rose Hynes and Gary Britton - and there may be more change to come.

Aryzta chief executive Owen Killian chairs the Origin board, while chief operating officer Patrick McEniff is a non-executive director of Origin. The removal of Aryzta from the Origin share register frees up a substantial amount of shares to be sold on the general market and allows a rapid diversification of the company's shareholder base.

Canadian investment group Mawer has built up a 14pc stake in Origin in the last year while other firms, such as F&C and Polar Capital, have also taken stakes in the business.

Aryzta's move comes a day after Origin reported half-year earnings that saw profits after tax increase marginally to €88.2m.

Investors were unimpressed, however, with shares in the company plunging 6.5pc. That trend continued yesterday with the stock falling another 3pc.

Analysts have cut earnings estimates for Origin on the back of indications that the company may face near-term challenges. For the year to date, Origin shares are down nearly 20pc.

Aryzta's large holding combined with Mawer's 14pc stake had prompted analysts at Merrion Capital to speculate that Origin may become a takeover target.

Irish Independent

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