Alliance Trust appoints Lord Smith chairman

Alliance Trust appoints Lord Smith chairman

Alliance Trust has named Robert Smith as chairman as part of a major reshuffle of its board, prompted by pressure from investors.

Robert Smith, Lord Smith of Kelvin, is expected to take up the position on 1 February, succeeding Karin Forseke, who announced her plan to step down from the main board in November.

At the time she stepped down Ms Forseke said: “Alongside the new non-executive-only board of the trust, excellent independent boards will be in place to oversee the development of Alliance Trust Investments and Alliance Trust Savings.

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“As these changes are implemented, the chair of the trust’s role will change, and as a result I believe now is the right time for me to move on.”

The move follows a long-running campaign by investors for the firm to change its management board, which led to the departure of chief executive Katherine Garrett-Cox.

Lord Smith is currently chairman of UK Green Investment Bank, Forth Ports and IMI, and was previously non-executive director of the Standard Bank Group and chair of The Weir Group and energy firm SSE.

Between 1996 and 2002 he was chief executive and vice chairman of Morgan Grenfell Asset Management, later known as Deutsche Asset Management.

Lord Smith will be helping implement plans announced in October, which include creating separate boards for the Alliance Trust savings platform and investment management subsidiaries.

Gregor Stewart, deputy chairman, said the board will be focusing on the investment performance of Alliance Trust, and will aim to create “natural demand” for its shares, while reducing its trading discount.

Lord Smith said: “I am looking forward to getting started and playing my part in delivering the changes that are necessary to return the Trust to the levels of performance upon which it has earned its reputation and success.”

His new role is subject to regulatory approval.

Adviser view

Scott Gallacher, chartered financial planner at Leicester-based Rowley Turton Wealth Management, said: “I think it’s fair to say that Alliance Trust has been forced to act due to investor pressure, and hopefully this is a step towards calmer times for it.”