Aryzta Chief Faces Struggle Over Picard Deal

By Steve Wynne-Jones
Aryzta Chief Faces Struggle Over Picard Deal

Owen Killian, chief executive of food giant Aryzta is facing pressure from investors to fund the buyout of French frozen food retailer, Picard.

The Swiss-Irish company acquired a 49 per cent stake in Picard last year for €446.6 million, with the option to purchase the other 51 per cent within three to five years.

According to The Sunday Times, Roscommon native Killian is under pressure to generate the cash for the deal. "If we're going to succeed in acquiring Picard post - 2020, without going back to our shareholders, we need to unlock substantial free cash out of our core business," said Killian in a call with analysts.

The Picard acquisition was unpopular with many investors as it was seen as a major departure from the he company's traditional par-baking strategy. It is unclear now how Aryzta will finance the takeover, as the company is highly leveraged.

Killian made a surprise move last week by announcing he had sold two-thirds of his stake in Aryzta, worth a total of €16 million. He has said he won't sell any more shares, after shares plummeted upon the news.