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Aryzta rejects bid approach from Elliott, updates on strategy

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Aryzta is seen during the company's annual shareholder meeting in Duebendorf

ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss baked goods maker Aryzta rejected on Friday an 800 million Swiss franc ($904 million) takeover approach from Elliott Advisors, saying it preferred to go it alone.

"Aryzta announces that after careful review of the Elliott proposal, including the envisaged refinancing for Aryzta, the Board has decided unanimously to reject the proposal and not enter into a transaction agreement with Elliott," it said in a statement.

Elliott declined to comment.

Elliott launched its takeover bid at the beginning of December, attaching conditions to the offer and setting a deadline which has expired.

Aryzta also gave a strategic update, saying it wanted to return to sustainable organic growth over the next two to three years and improve its core earnings (EBITDA) margin to around 12.5% within the next two years, from 9% last year.

It said its board had confirmed the strategic focus on Europe and Asia-Pacific and the decision to sell businesses in North and Latin America.

"Our engagement with interested parties for these businesses is progressing well," Aryzta said, adding the expected proceeds should help to significantly reduce debt levels over the next six to nine months.

Shareholders this month elected Urs Jordi as chairman of the struggling company, which produces McDonald's burger buns. Jordi has said now is not the time for Aryzta to consider selling up, instead favouring restructuring the company.

"Aryzta has had a tumultuous few years. ... The newly formed board is committed to bringing this chapter in Aryzta’s history to a close," the company said.

Aryzta, which owns the Cuisine de France brand, has endured a tough few years, with falling sales made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. It has also been weighed down by a huge debt pile from an acquisition spree in Europe and the United States.

($1 = 0.8846 Swiss francs)

(Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz and Michael Shields. Additional reporting by Oliver Hirt. Editing by Mark Potter)