SCHLIEREN, SWITZERLAND — Aryzta AG has received a binding offer from Invest Group Zouari for a majority of Aryzta’s interest in Picard, a French food retailer that specializes in the frozen food market. The 43% stake of €156 million ($171 million) in Picard, combined with prior Picard dividend income of €91 million, represent a total of €247 million. Aryzta would retain a 4.5% stake in Picard.
Aryzta acquired a 49% stake in Picard for €447 million in 2015, but in August 2018 the company’s board of directors revealed plans to raise up to €800 million in equity capital to help implement the company’s business plan.
“The binding offer from IGZ for our interest in Picard represents the earliest practicable opportunity to realize the maximum deliverable value for Aryzta,” said Kevin Toland, chief executive officer of Aryzta. “On completion of this transaction, Aryzta will realize some 85% of its asset disposal objective. The steps we have taken in 2019 have established clear foundations on our path toward stability performance and growth.”
The transaction is expected to close in the last quarter of calendar year 2019.
After purchasing the 49% share of Picard in 2015, Aryzta had trouble meeting earnings expectations. Owen Killian resigned as c.e.o. in 2017. Mr. Toland became c.e.o. in September 2017.
Along with the plans announced in August 2018 to raise €800 million in equity capital, Aryzta at that time said it remained committed to its €1 billion deleveraging plan, which would include at least €450 million of asset disposals and the balance from cash flow generations.