Saturday 17 March 2018

Killian is worst CEO of 2015, our analyst survey finds

Michael O'Leary and Paddy Power's Andy McCue top our poll, write Sarah McCabe and Gavin McLoughlin

WOODEN SPOON: Owen Killian. Photo: Iain White
WOODEN SPOON: Owen Killian. Photo: Iain White

Sarah McCabe and Gavin McLoughlin

Aryzta's chief executive Owen Killian has been voted the worst chief executive of any Irish-listed company in 2015 in a poll of the country's top investment analysts.

In an analyst survey conducted by the Sunday Independent over the past week, every single respondent selected Killian as their worst CEO of 2015.

Aryzta's share price has been slashed this year, falling from €73 in March to around €44 last week.

The acquisition of a 49pc stake in French retailer Picard for €446.6m attracted criticism. Some analysts questioned the deal on the basis that it was a move away from the company's core competence as a specialty baker.

In its full-year results, Killian wrote that 2015 had been a disappointing year for shareholders "as underlying revenue growth failed to materialise, resulting in negative operating leverage".

Roscommon man Killian has been chief executive of the company (best known in Ireland for its Cuisine de France brand) since 2008, when the Irish IAWS Group merged with Swiss baking and convenience food company Hiestand.

In recent years he has been one of Ireland's highest-paid chief executives, but Killian has disappointed the markets this year, with his company the subject of a scathing series of broker notes.

Analysts at Societe Generale listed a number of steps which the company could take to "rebuild credibility".

Irish analysts' favourite chief executive of an Irish listed company in 2015 was Michael O'Leary.

The Ryanair boss has completed an ambitious turnaround strategy and repositioned his airline as more consumer-friendly, as well as overseeing major reforms to its website and ticket selling process.

Its share price climbed over 50pc during 2015. Even ignoring this rise, the company has returned almost €3bn to its shareholders by special dividends and share buybacks since 2008.

In November the airline posted a 37pc jump in after-tax profit for the first half of its financial year - to €1.088bn - excluding a one-off gain of €317.5m from the sale of its stake in Aer Lingus. Ryanair said it expected full-year net profit to be at the upper end of its guided range. In July it became the first EU airline to carry 10 million passengers in a single month, the airline said.

Kingspan's Gene Murtagh and Paddy Power's Andy McCue were also chosen by a minority of analysts as their top chief executives of 2015.

McCue, who is just 41, was ranked in second place after securing a £6bn (€8.1bn) merger with Betfair "which could prove transformational for the industry and the company", one analyst noted.

McCue will take the role of chief operations officer when the deal is completed and Betfair's Breon Corcoran will be chief executive.

Sunday Indo Business

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