Baillie GiffordMay 3 2023

Scottish Mortgage appoints two new NEDs

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Scottish Mortgage appoints two new NEDs

The Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust has appointed two independent non-executive directors, weeks after the chairperson stepped down after a row about the board’s experience.

Sharon Flood and Vikram Kumaraswamy will join the trust’s board on May 17 this year, subject to shareholder approval.

Flood is on the board of French railway company Getlink SE, as well as Pets at Home PLC.

She has previously served as chairperson of Seraphine Group and S T DuPont SA, and has sat on the board of Crest Nicolson PLC and Network Rail.

Flood is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and was formerly the finance director for Woolworth’s retail division and had the same role for John Lewis’s department stores.

Kumaraswamy is a chartered accountant, and is currently the head of strategy and corporate development at Unilever. He was previously chief financial officer of PT Unilever Indonesia Tbk.

In March, the chairperson of the investment trust stepped down after a former director criticised her tenure at the firm.

Fiona McBain will step down at the company’s annual general meeting, expected to be in June, and will be replaced by senior independent director Justin Dowley.

Days before McBain’s resignation, the trust was forced to deny that a director had left the board, after he told the Financial Times he was asked to resign.

Amar Bhidé said he had clashed with McBain during a meeting over the process to appoint two new board members, and his concerns over the trust’s exposure to unlisted assets.

He said he was concerned that nobody on the board has any professional investment experience, and criticised McBain for a lack of independence.

Bhidé focused on the trust’s exposure to illiquid, private assets, saying he does not think the trust has the capabilities or governance to monitor these investments.

The trust’s share price has fallen 33 per cent in the past year, and its net asset value has dropped 18 per cent as higher interest rates have depressed the valuations of many of the companies it holds. 

Its long-term manager, James Anderson, who spent two decades running the trust, left in April last year. 

He was replaced by co-manager Tom Slater, who has shared the role since 2015, and Lawrence Burns, who had previously co-managed Baillie Gifford’s international concentrated growth strategy.