Mixed Monday for award-nominated Alliance chief as latest dissenting voice emerges
Alliance Trust chief executive Katherine Garrett-Cox, who is currently embroiled in an increasingly bitter dispute with an American activist investor to shake up the Dundee-based firm’s board, has now been short-listed for a prestigious national award.
She is in the running for the Veuve Clicquot business woman of the year, which will be named on 11 May.
She was announced as one of a trio of shortlisted businesswomen along with Julia Peyton-Jones, director of the Serpentine Galleries in London, and Justine Roberts, founder of Mumsnet.
However, today’s announcement came as it emerged that former Alliance non-executive director Tim Ingram stated publically that he would be voting in favour of hedge fund Elliott Advisors’ bid to install three new directors on the firm’s board.
Ingram, who served as a director at Alliance Trust from 2010 to 2012, is now chairman of the Wealth Management Association, the representative body for the investment industry.
In an open letter to shareholders, he said: “The overall performance of Alliance Trust in the medium term has been dismal.”
He went on to say that Garrett-Cox is paid too much and she should give in to pressure for change at the 127 year old financial services company.
It is the latest twist in an ongoing war of words between Alliance bosses, led by chief executive Katherine Garrett-Cox, and investors backing leading shareholder Elliott Advisors, a US fund agitating for boardroom change to help improve the value of the firm.
Elliott blames poor corporate governance at the group for a relatively wide discount of around 12 per cent to its net asset value. Alliance’s peers trade at an average discount of 5.8 per cent.
Adding his support to the activist investor’s push to have three new non-executive directors appointed to Alliance’s board to give “fresh perspective”, Mr Ingram criticised the group’s five-year share performance.
He also said the group’s £1.4million-a-year boss, Ms Garrett-Cox, had earned more than £6million over five years of “dismal under performance”.
A spokeswoman for Alliance last night accused Mr Ingram of selecting a time frame which was unkind to Alliance, which had outperformed the sector over other periods.