Elliott Advisors proposes to acquire Aryzta, Swiss firm looks for other options

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Aryzta is seen during the company's annual shareholder meeting in Duebendorf, Switzerland November 1, 2018. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

ZURICH (Reuters) - Private equity firm Elliott Capital Advisors said on Monday it made a non-binding proposal to Aryzta’s board of directors on Nov. 18 to acquire all outstanding shares of the Swiss frozen baked goods maker, but Aryzta said discussions with the hedge fund had been concluded in October.

Aryzta said in a statement it had received the letter, but said the potential offer was “subject to certain conditions, some of which cannot be satisfied as a matter of fact”.

It reiterated its previous statement that it had concluded discussions with Elliott on Oct. 24 and was considering alternatives.

The potential offer from Elliott at an indicative price of 0.80 francs per share would value the company at 793 million Swiss francs ($871.81 million), according to Refinitiv data. Aryzta’s shares closed at 0.6645 francs on Friday.

“Interesting timing and peculiar offer, in our view, as it is public knowledge that Chairman and interim CEO Urs Jordi is against such a deal,” Vontobel analyst Jean-Philippe Bertschy said in a note.

Elliott said in a statement the financing for the potential offer was available and refinancing arrangements for the company’s existing debt were at an advanced stage.

“We require the board of directors’ recommendation of our potential offer and the company’s support to finalise our refinancing arrangements,” Elliott said.

It said the public tender offer would be subject to customary offer conditions to be specified by Elliott, without giving further details.

Aryzta, whose products include buns for McDonald’s burgers and Otis Spunkmeyer cookies, has been under pressure from activist investors for months as it generated losses well before the COVID-19 outbreak.

Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz; Editing by Thomas Seythal, Sherry Jacob-Phillips, Kim Coghill and Uttaresh.V