Killian out as part of executive shakeup at Aryzta

by Eric Schroeder
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Owen Killian, Aryzta
Owen Killian plans to resign as c.e.o. of Aryzta at the end of the current financial year in July.

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND — Owen Killian, chief executive officer of Aryzta AG, has tendered his resignation and will step down from his position at the end of the current financial year in July. Also departing the company are Patrick McEniff, chief financial officer and chief operating officer, and John Yamin, c.e.o. of Americas.

Patrick McEniff, Aryzta
Patrick McEniff, c.f.o. and c.o.o. of Aryzta

Following the announcement on Feb. 14, shares of the Switzerland-based baked foods company traded during the day as high as $16.44, up nearly 12% from the previous close of $14.68.

To support an orderly transition, provide stability and management continuity for staff, customers and suppliers, Aryzta’s board has appointed three new members to the executive team to replace the departing leaders. The new members of the board are Dermot Murphy, c.o.o. of Europe; Ronan Minahan, c.o.o. of Americas; and Robert O’Boyle, c.o.o. of APMEA.

“On behalf of the board, I would like to express our gratitude to Owen, Patrick and John for their contribution in building a unique infrastructure with a very strong franchise in the specialty baking industry,” said Gary McGann, chairman of Aryzta. “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.”

Mr. Killian has been c.e.o. and executive director since 2008, when Aryzta was formed from a combination of IAWS Group P.L.C. and Hiestand. Previously, he had held a variety of leadership roles at IAWS.

John Yamin, Aryzta
John Yamin, c.e.o. of Americas for Aryzta

News of the executives’ departure comes less than a month after Aryzta announced a weak financial outlook, pressured by poor U.S. sales. The company in a Jan. 24 conference call projected first-half 2017 earnings per share would fall shy of expectations by 20% with a similar result for the full year.

In addition to announcing the departure of the executives, Aryzta on Feb. 14 said it is engaged in a review of its investment strategy in joint ventures.

“As part of that review, Aryzta has commenced a process with Lion Capital to evaluate investment alternatives for the Picard business,” the company said. “Picard is a highly attractive specialist food retailer, which has a unique proposition that is singularly relevant for modern consumers. Aryzta’s interest in Picard is a 49% equity stake, together with a call option on the remaining 51% stake. Net proceeds of any transaction which may monetize Aryzta’s interest in Picard would be used to strengthen the Aryzta Group’s balance sheet.”

Aryzta also indicated it has increased the covenant headroom under its senior revolving credit facility, a move expected to provide the company with enhanced financial flexibility.

“While Aryzta is operating within its existing covenant of 3.5 times net debt to EBITDA, it has agreed to increase the covenant to 4.0 times net debt to EBITDA,” the company said. “The covenant amendment applies to the three tests at July 31, 2017; Jan. 31, 2018; and July 31, 2018.”
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