City figures back Alliance in US hedge fund battle

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Alliance Trust has secured the backing of City heavyweights including the chairman of BAE Systems and chief executive of Unilever as it prepares for a showdown with activist investor Elliott Advisors.

The US hedge fund is attempting to have three new directors voted onto the Dundee-based wealth manager’s board, and corporate governance advisers ISS and Pirc last week recommended that shareholders vote in favour of the shake-up when they gather for the Alliance general meeting on 29 April.

Unilever CEO Paul Polman. Picture: Getty

Unilever CEO Paul Polman. Picture: Getty

However, it emerged yesterday that Paul Polman, boss of consumer goods giant Unilever, has rallied behind Alliance, which is headed by chief executive Katherine Garrett-Cox.

“Many companies like Alliance Trust have investment propositions that are built around long-term thinking and long-term returns,” Polman said.

“They have the right to defend themselves in the face of those with short-term time horizons and it’s important that shareholders take the time to listen to the arguments in order to make an informed voting decision.”

Sir Roger Carr, chairman of defence contractor BAE Systems, added: “I have known Katherine Garrett-Cox for many years and have worked alongside her in the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Group. She has consistently shown huge dedication to her role 
as a leader in the financial sector and has made a material contribution to good governance and thought leadership in the wider business community.”

Alliance Trust has right to defend itself

Paul Polman

It was reported yesterday that DC Thomson, the Dundee-based publisher that has a 5.5 per cent stake in Alliance, plans to vote against Elliott Advisors’ resolution to nominate three new non-executives to the board of the Tayside institution at next week’s annual meeting.