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Aryzta’s chairman pick rejected by activist shareholders

By John Miller

ZURICH, Aug 13 – Activist shareholders in Swiss frozen baked goods maker Aryzta on Thursday rejected the company’s proposal to appoint Andreas Schmid as chairman, sending its shares down sharply.

Veraison Capital and Spanish activist partner Cobas, which control nearly 38% of Aryzta based on Refinitiv data, have been critical of the foodmaker’s strategy and are now pushing back against Schmid’s proposed appointment.

“After discussions and further engagement attempts during the last weeks, [Schmid’s] election is clearly rejected by the shareholder group,” Verasion said in a statement on Thursday, saying “trustworthy leadership” was needed.

The activists are pushing their own board candidates at a planned Sept. 16 extraordinary shareholders meeting.

Aryzta said Schmid was well suited, with “many years of operational and strategic management experience at the head of leading international food, retail and service companies.”

Schmid is currently chairman at Flughafen Zuerich.

Analysts at Baader Helvea said Schmid’s track record was uneven.

“We would have also wished that Aryzta would have proposed a leader with more familiarity with the frozen bakery segment,” Baader Helvea analyst Andreas von Arx said.

Shares in Aryzta are down more than 90% over the last five years after recent management turmoil and as COVID-19 weighs on sales. (Reporting by John Miller. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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