Alliance Trust braced for more personal attacks

 
Tim Wallace
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Chief executive Katherine Garrett-Cox (Source: Corbis)
The battle between Alliance Trust and activist investor Elliott Advisors is set to get more tense and bitter in the coming weeks, with both sides rallying supporters ahead of next month’s annual general meeting.

Elliott wants to appoint three new directors to the investment group’s board, arguing the FTSE 250 firm needs more industry experience, and more non-executives to challenge bosses.

On Friday, Alliance Trust gave a presentation to analysts in which the firm argued it was performing well, rejecting claims by Elliott that it was doing worse than the market.

But yesterday, former non-executive director Tim Ingram came out against the board, and urged fellow shareholders to back Elliott’s rebellion.

“The overall performance of Alliance Trust in the medium term has been dismal,” Ingram said in a letter seen by the Sunday Times.

Ingram served on the board for just two years, leaving in 2012, and is thought to have been unhappy with the way the firm was run at the time.

Elliott hopes that other short-lived directors will also join its cause in pushing to change the position of management, headed by chief executive Kath­erine Garrett-Cox.

But insiders at Alliance Trust were dismissive of Ingram’s intervention.

“Tim Ingram is entitled to his opinion, but he hasn’t worked at All­iance Trust for a number of years – he doesn’t have the most current information on which to base his opinions,” said a source.

“He left when the new chair came in – she [Karin Forseke] wanted to make sure she had a good board with the right experience, the right attitude and everyone pointing in the same direction. He left at that time.”

An Alliance Trust spokesperson said: “The board has written to shareholders and clearly set out its reasons for rejecting Elliott’s requisitions. We believe their interests are at odds with other shareholders and this is just the start of their disruptive action.”

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