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Dissident Aryzta shareholders object to McGann replacement


Proxy battle: Andreas Schmid nominated as chairman

Proxy battle: Andreas Schmid nominated as chairman

Proxy battle: Andreas Schmid nominated as chairman

Dissident shareholders in Aryzta have voiced their objection to the board's nomination of Andreas Schmid to succeed Gary McGann as chairman of the company.

The nomination comes ahead of Aryzta's extraordinary general meeting (EGM) due to take place next month.

Mr McGann has previously said he will stand down if a deal to sell the troubled Swiss-Irish food group has not been lined up by the EGM.

A spokesperson for Aryzta yesterday clarified that Mr McGann will step down at the EGM "unless there is a transaction that could render that meeting obsolete."

The shareholder activist group owns more than 20pc of Aryzta and is led by Swiss asset management company Veraison.

Last month the shareholder group warned they would take legal action if Aryzta's EGM does not take place on September 16 as planned. It had requested an EGM take place on May 20.

Mr Schmid, a Swiss national, is a highly experienced executive.

He previously served as CEO, then chairman, and later vice chairman of Barry Callebaut, a billion euro manufacturer of chocolate and cocoa products.

As well as a number of other board roles, he has also served as chairman of the listed Airport Zurich since 2000.

Commenting yesterday Mr McGann said: "We are delighted to attract an individual of Andreas Schmid's calibre as our nominee as chair.

Andreas is uniquely positioned to work with the board, Kevin [Toland] and the broader management team. His acceptance of the nomination as chair reflects the inherent potential within the Aryzta business".

However, this has not been enough to quell the discontented shareholders.

An hour after Aryzta's statement to the markets, Veraison said Mr Schmid's nomination is "not in the best interest of the bakery group."

"After discussions and further engagement attempts during the last weeks, his election is clearly rejected by the shareholder group," Veraison said in a statement.

Aryzta, best known here for the Cuisine de France brand is a global supplier of buns for burgers to McDonald's and makes Otis Spunkmeyer cookies.

The company has been badly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has led to profound changes in consumer eating habits as larger numbers of employees were forced into working from home.

Earlier this week Aryzta said it saw further improvement in its revenue last month.

The company expects its organic revenue growth to be down around 18pc year on year for the month to July 25, this is an improvement on the 23pc decline in revenue growth in June, and substantially better than the 49pc fall in organic revenue growth recorded in April.

Last month it was reported that Canadian bakery giant George Weston Ltd was exploring a potential deal to buy Aryzta.

George Weston Ltd is part of a business group with a focus on food and clothing - including the Penneys and Brown Thomas brands.

Aryzta says it had received a number of approaches.

Irish Independent