SCHLIEREN, SWITZERLAND — Urs Ernst Jordi was elected chairman of Aryzta AG, one of several announcements made in connection with the company’s extraordinary general meeting (EGM) of shareholders on Sept. 16. A total of 65.79% of shareholders voted for Mr. Jordi, compared with 34.04% who voted against his election and 0.17% who abstained from voting.
Mr. Jordi is former head of Aryzta Europe and former chief executive officer of Hiestand Holding AG. He succeeds Gary McGann, who stepped down from the position at the conclusion of the EGM.
Mr. Jordi’s election came a day after Andreas G. Schmid decided to withdraw his candidacy for the position.
“I had made myself available as a candidate for the chair of the board of directors of an independent company or a company with strong industrial interests,” Mr. Schmid said on Sept. 15. “It has become clear after recent developments that this solution is no longer an option, therefore, I have decided to withdraw my candidacy for the board of directors of Aryzta.”
A total of 96.59% of shareholders also voted in favor of Mr. Jordi’s appointment to Aryzta’s board of directors. Also elected to the board were Heiner Kamps (94.89%) and Armin Bieri (65.7%).
Additionally, 62.23% of shareholders voted for the dismissal of Kevin E. Toland as a member of the board of directors, compared with 37.33% who voted against his removal. Mr. Toland is CEO of Aryzta, and his presence on the board has been a topic of much discussion over the past several months.
Mr. McGann had pushed for Mr. Toland to remain on the board, claiming “his presence on the board is “fundamentally important.”
“Having the CEO as a member of the board allows for appropriate management representation on the board together with a direct and immediate information exchange between the board and management,” Mr. McGann said in late July. “Further, Kevin’s position as a member of the board is important to our customers and our people. The leadership of Kevin Toland is vital to the future of the company, and any diminution in his role and authority is considered by the board to be contrary to the best interests of the company and all of its stakeholders.”
Shareholders representing in excess of 82% of shares eligible to vote approved all of proposals put forward by the shareholder group.
“The vote is an overwhelming vote for change and a strong vote of confidence in favor of bakery experience, which is urgently needed to rebuild Aryzta,” Mr. Jordi said. “Our task is clear and urgent, to leverage this new bakery experience to deliver change and improvement across the business to regain confidence among all stakeholders.”
The changes in the board makeup at Aryzta come at a critical time for the Swiss company. On Sept. 10, Aryzta confirmed it has entered into advanced discussions with Elliott Advisors Ltd. about a potential public tender offer for all the outstanding shares of Aryzta, though the company noted “there is no certainty that those discussions will result in any offer being made.”