Alliance hits back at Laxey

EMBATTLED investment firm Alliance Trust reported a 16 per cent rise in net asset value in 2010 and raised its dividend as it rallied support for its battle with activist investors yesterday.

Net asset value reached a three-year high of 439p per share by the end of January, almost 17 per cent more than its 364p share price at that time.

The persistent discount has become a lightning rod for activist funds such as Laxey Partners, which has told Alliance to use share buybacks to reduce the discount whenever it goes above ten per cent.

Alliance chairman Lesley Knox hit back at the rebels yesterday, telling investors to vote down Laxey’s proposals as the board was “focused on managing the trust in the best interests of long-term shareholders, not those who are motivated purely to make a short-term gain.” Alliance says a sustainable share price will result from better overall performance at the firm. Knox said management had taken “firm actions” to do this that were “driving an improved performance.”

Total shareholder return was 19.2 per cent and third party assets rose to £83m in 2010. The dividend rose three per cent to 8.4p per share in 2010.