Henderson trust responds to board spat

The board of the Henderson Value Trust has responded to reports about a disagreement which led to its chairman Shane Ross resigning.

In a statement to markets this morning, the board said it thought it was “regrettable” Mr Ross had briefed the Sunday Telegraph about the board’s “difference of opinion”.

Mr Ross claims in the Sunday paper that parts of his chairman’s statement was deleted prior to publication and that this could impact shareholders’ opinion as to whether to keep the trust going at its next continuation vote.

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Investment trusts usually have written into their prospectuses that a continuation vote - which dictates if the trust continues or winds up - takes place on a recurring basis.

Deciding to wind the trust up and sell its assets could be beneficial for investors if the trust’s shares are trading at a wide discount compared to the net value of the trust’s assets.

However, the board said this morning that the trust was subject to “some considerable change” since its previous continuation vote earlier this year - which saw the mandate switch to Henderson and new board members appointed. It added it wanted the process relating to its recommendations for the upcoming continuation vote to be “as thorough as possible”.

“The review to which Mr Ross refers was one of many parts of that wide ranging process and it contained subjective estimations as to the possible impact of the level of liquidity of [the trust’s] holdings were the trust to be discontinued, based on a number of assumptions and variables,” the statement said this morning.

“It would have been most unusual to publish the details of such a review which in essence simply confirmed that it could take some time to realise holdings already known to be illiquid.

“No board member, with the exception of Mr Ross, felt that it would be appropriate to do so and nor did the board’s advisers.”

The trust announced in July that Richard Gubbins and Graham Oldroyd had been appointed as non-executive directors with the idea Mr Gubbins would take on the chairmanship from Mr Ross in December.

The trust’s annual results and annual general meeting are due to take place on December 19.

Mr Gubbins said: “Recognising that there was a difference of opinion, mainly on presentation, we went to some lengths to adopt a collegiate and consensus driven approach, accommodating as best we could the views of Mr Ross who was in any event due to stand down at the forthcoming annual general meeting.

“As a board, we were disappointed that Mr Ross was not prepared to entertain our views and those of our advisers and we were surprised in the circumstances that he chose to resign. I think it is regrettable that Mr Ross as outgoing chairman then chose to brief a journalist on the private deliberations of the board and its advisers.”