Alliance gets Angus Grossart’s support in board battle

Veteran merchant banker Sir Angus Grossart has thrown his weight behind Alliance Trust as the investment firm seeks to fend off an attempt to shake up its boardroom.

Sir Angus Grossart. Picture: Neil Hanna
Sir Angus Grossart. Picture: Neil Hanna

Elliott Advisors, a US hedge fund, is seeking to have three non-executive directors voted onto the Dundee-based trust’s board at its annual meeting next week, and corporate governance groups ISS and Pirc last week recommended that investors vote in favour of the proposal.

However, a host of City figures, including Unilever boss Paul Polman and BAE Systems chairman Sir Roger Carr, leapt to the trust’s defence at the weekend, with Carr praising Alliance chief executive Katherine Garrett-Cox for her “huge dedication to her role”.

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It has now emerged that Grossart, who chairs Edinburgh-based merchant bank Noble Grossart and the Scottish Futures Trust – a public body aimed at making infrastructure investment more efficient – has given Garrett-Cox his backing in her battle against Elliott, which controls about 12.2 per cent of the Tayside institution. He said: “This is an invitation to dine from an unpriced menu at a restaurant you should avoid, regardless of how well dressed the chefs are.”

Sir Angus Grossart. Picture: Neil Hanna

Alliance investors gather in Dundee to have their say on the Elliott resolutions at the annual meeting on 29 April. Publishing group DC Thomson, which owns 5.5 per cent of the trust, plans to vote against the move.

Karin Forseke, who chairs the firm, told The Scotsman that she was “very grateful” for the Beano publisher’s backing, as well as that voiced by thousands of retail shareholders. She added: “It’s a challenging situation, but the amount of support we have got demonstrates the importance of this issue and the future of the trust. One of the most important issues for us is that people do come out and vote.”