Alliance Trust wins backing of City bosses

 
Tim Wallace
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Katherine Garrett-Cox
Embattled Alliance Trust boss Kath­erine Garrett-Cox won the support of a series of business bosses over the weekend, as the leaders spoke up in favour of her stewardship.

Activist investor Elliott Advisors is pushing to add three new directors to the FTSE 250 investment group’s board, arguing that its executives need to be pushed harder to deliver good returns for shareholders.

A series of shareholder groups and governance advisers have backed Elliott’s bid, as has former Alliance non-executive director Tim Ingram.

But major investor and fellow Dundee-based firm DC Thomson came out against the changes yesterday.

And that support for the existing board was bolstered by the group of City leaders.

“I have known Katherine for many years and have admired her focus and energy in building the Alliance Trust of today, which continues to reward investors,” said Michael Spencer, chief executive of interdealer broker Icap.

“She deserves their wholehearted support.”

And EL Rothschild’s chief, Lynn Foreter de Rothschild, also voiced her support. “I am very supportive of Alliance Trust’s focus on long-term, sustainable investment, and I admire Katherine for her progressive thinking as well as for her steadfastness in sticking to what she believes in,” said de Rothschild.

“I strongly disapprove of any company that pursues profit at any cost, without considering the damage they cause elsewhere, particularly to their own customers and shareholders. I would urge shareholders to be incredibly wary of any and all short-termist views, both for themselves and for the generations to come.”

The outcome of the vote at next week’s annual general meeting is highly uncertain. Alliance Trust has an unusually large base of small investors.

While some are known to be disappointed at returns in recent years, others are concerned that a US hedge fund wants to change the way a very traditional British business is run.

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