Laxey pins its hopes on key investor vote

ACTIVIST shareholder group Laxey Partners has played down the significance of a preliminary meeting with Alliance Trust ahead of the groups’s shareholders’ meeting, to be held on 20 May.

Colin Kingsnorth, Laxey’s co-founder, told City A.M. last night: “It will only be a formal meeting to discuss the results they posted last week. Change can only happen when shareholders vote for it to happen.”

He was responding to a move by Katherine Garrett–Cox, chief executive of the UK’s largest investment trust, who said at the weekend that she would meet activist investors before the general meeting, when shareholders will vote on resolutions put to the Board.

Kingsnorth proceeded to defend himself from Garrett­-Cox’s claims that none of the major shareholders have publicly supported Laxey yet, predicting a big turnout on 20 May.

“She makes it sound like it’s only us, but that’s not true,” he said.

“All major investors will be supportive of a policy to narrow the discount, and ours is the best – and only – proposal put forward so far.”

Kingsnorth and Garrett–Cox have been exchanging blows for the past months.

Laxey has publicly argued that the trust is “underperforming”, and has been pushing for the trust to introduce a discount control mechanism (DCM) to buy back shares from as early as December 2010.

Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, Garrett–Cox dismissed Laxey’s criticism as “rubbish”, calling for shareholders to back the present management.

Kingsnorth has criticised Garrett-Cox’s pay and bonuses and she has responded by questioning his remuneration package.

“She has to justify it (her salary) in front of the people whose money she’s looking after. “We are a private company, I am self employed and I can tell you, we pay ourselves less that she pays herself,” he said.