Experimental feature

Listen to this article

Experimental feature

Shares in the world’s largest frozen bread products company Aryzta rose as much as 20 per cent on Tuesday after the Swiss-listed baker announced Owen Killian, the chief executive, and two other top executives were quitting.

The company, which has seen its shares slump in the last two years amid flagging investor confidence in the performance of its US arm, said it planned to sell assets while announcing new debt terms.

Aryzta has lost nearly two-thirds of its value since March 2015, trimming its market cap to just SwF 2.73bn ($2.72 billion) – hit in recent months by higher labour costs and falling sales at its US brand Otis Spunkmeyer.

Patrick McEniff, chief financial officer, also resigned as did John Yamin, head of Aryzta Americas, the statement said on Tuesday.

Shares in the group jumped as much as 20 per cent at the open. They had pulled back to a 9.3 per cent rise tp SFr32.4 at publication time, putting it top of the Europe-wide Stoxx 600 index.

Gary McGann, the former chief executive of paper and packaging company Smurfit Kappa who became Aryzta chairman in September, said:

The newly constituted executive management team, together with an improved capital structure, provides stability with an objective to deliver, in time, both performance and growth.

The company, created by the 2008 merger of the former Irish Agricultural Wholesale Society IAWS and Hiestand, a listed Swiss baker, said it had boosted its net debt covenants, a move giving it more financial flexibility but potentially increasing borrowing costs by up to 50 basis points.

Aryzta said it was considering the disposal of its 49 percent stake in French food retailer Picard, bought less than two years ago, saying any proceeds would go to strengthening its balance sheet.

The company issued a profits warning at the end of January that earnings in the five months to the end of December 2016 would be 20 per cent lower than the same period in 2015.

The company, which has its roots in the Irish cooperative movement, refocused its strategy as a bakery products company, by acquiring the Cuisine de France patisserie brand in 1998.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019. All rights reserved.

Comments have not been enabled for this article.

Follow the topics in this article