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Shareholders owning 17.3pc of Aryzta request emergency general meeting in order to unseat five directors

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Aryzta CEO Kevin Toland

Aryzta CEO Kevin Toland

Aryzta CEO Kevin Toland

Shareholders owning 17.3pc of Cuisine de France owner Aryzta have requested an emergency general meeting of shareholders in order to unseat chairman Gary McGann and four other directors, including CEO Kevin Toland. The shareholders said the plan to remove Kevin Toland as director is in order to allow him to focus on his CEO role.

Aryzta’s biggest shareholder Cobas Asset Management, and a second investor Veraison, say they will nominate Urs Ernst Jordi as the new chairman of Aryzta, along with two more nominees in a move that potentially would effect a dramatic change of control at the top of the Swiss Irish bakery giant.

Aryzta confirmed that it has received the request to convene an EGM and said the board will carefully consider it.

The move comes ahead of financial results due on Tuesday next week, which will show the revenue hit from the global Covid-19 crisis.

The two activist shareholders say they are pressing for changes to reverse a share slide that has seen around €2.7bn wiped off its market capitalisation since a peak four years ago.

Aryzta's subordinated bonds, which rank below senior debt but better than equity, are trading well below face value - a perpetual bond carrying a 4pc coupon traded at 55 cents in the euro yesterday.

Shares in the dual Swiss-Irish bakery giant peaked in January 2017 at €42.58 each. Shares were traded at just over 30 cents on Thursday.

The company announced last week that the board it hired investment bank Rothschild in April for a review of financial options which could see further sales or potentially a restructuring of the group.

The company provides baked and par-baked goods on an industrial scale in the US and Europe - with customers including McDonald's and Starbucks. Ahead of the Covid-19 outbreak, management led by CEO Kevin Toland had been engaged in a long-running programme to cut debt, sell assets and reduce costs.

But the shutdown of swathes of the global economy, including collapsing consumer spending in key markets including the US, has added to the crisis at the company.

Online Editors