Swiss baking group ARYZTA is facing a shareholder lawsuit over transactions that took place in the lead up to the merger of Irish food group IAWS and Swiss bakery Hiestand, which resulted in the creation of the new company.
Swiss fund manager Peter Lehner, who represents about 5% of Hiestand shares, is believed to have launched a case against the group.
While he has not opposed the merger itself, according to Swizz magazine Bilanz, he has criticised the premium that was paid to private equity firm Lion Capital.
Under last year’s EUR2.7bn deal, IAWS acquired Lion’s 32% Hiestand stake for 12.7m IAWS shares and EUR30m cash. Each IAWS share was then exchanged for one Aryzta share, meaning that Lion received an 8% stake in Aryzta. Meanwhile, the remaining Hiestand shareholders received only 8.7% of the enlarged Aryzta.
Lehner has argued that all Hiestand shareholders should have received the same rate as Lion Capital for their shares.
A spokesperson for Aryzta confirmed that “a former Hiestand shareholder” has taken legal action against the company.
“The suit asserts that Hiestand shareholders were entitled to the same price as IAWS paid to Lion Capital for its shares in Hiestand. We believe this claim is without merit,” the spokesperson said.