Investment Trusts  

Alliance Trust appoints former SJP boss to board

Alliance Trust appoints former SJP boss to board

Alliance Trust has appointed former St James's Place chairman Sarah Bates as an independent non-executive director.

Karl Sternberg, the trust's senior independent director, will stand down from the board on June 30 after six years. He will be succeeded by Bates.

Bates is currently chairman of the Polar Capital Technology trust, a non-executive director of Worldwide Healthcare trust, and chairman of the John Lewis Partnership Trust for Pensions.

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Bates was a founder of the Diversity Project and is currently chairman of the Diversity Project Charity.

She stood down as chairman of SJP in 2018 after four years in the role.

Bates has also been chairman of Merian Global Investors. 

Dean Buckley, a former chief executive of both Scottish Widows Investment Partnership and HSBC Asset Management UK and Middle East, has also joined the board.

He has also held senior fund management positions at Prudential Portfolio Managers. 

Gregor Stewart, chairman of Alliance Trust, said: "I am delighted to welcome Sarah and Dean to the board. Both bring with them skills and experience that will complement those of the current directors. 

“At the same time, I would like to thank Karl for the significant contribution he has made to the board since he was appointed. Karl is one of three directors appointed in 2015 and is standing down as part of the company’s succession plan."

The announcement comes as Alliance Trust publishes its end of year results. The trust's net asset value total return was 8.5 per cent, substantially down from the 23.1 per cent recorded in 2019.

Its benchmark index, the MSCI All Country World, returned 12.7 per cent during 2020.

The trust also underperformed its sector, the AIC Global, which returned 14.61 per cent in 2020.

But the trust said this was “resilient" performance “in a year of global turmoil in which the benchmark return was skewed by the performance of the very largest companies.”

Stewart said: "Despite the unparalleled turbulence of 2020, the [trust] ended the year with its share price at a near record level and its run of increasing dividends extended to 54 consecutive years. 

“It is disappointing that the [trust] did not outperform its benchmark, but this is not surprising given that index returns were heavily skewed towards a handful of fashionable US large and mega-cap stocks.

“As the roll out of vaccines develops and the global economic recovery broadens out across industry sectors, your board and our investment manager remain confident that the company's diversified but high conviction portfolio is well placed to deliver long-term outperformance."