Wealth manager Alliance Trust today said that Karin Forseke will step down as its chair at the start of next year.
Her decision follows a shake-up at the Dundee-based trust announced last month, aimed at cutting costs by £6 million a year through a changed corporate structure and operating model.
Alliance Trust came under pressure from activist shareholder Elliott Advisors earlier this year, leading to a climbdown just before its annual meeting in April, when it agreed to appoint two of the rebel investor’s suggested non-executives to the board.
The boardroom overhaul, which Alliance said would put it in a better position to deliver “consistent outperformance in a cost-effective manner”, will create a wholly independent board – the move also saw the departure of finance chief Alan Trotter, while Katherine Garrett-Cox stepped down from the main board but will remain as chief executive of Alliance Trust Investments.
“Karin believes that, as this process nears completion, it is the appropriate time for her to step down,” Alliance said today.
Gregor Stewart, who has been a non-executive director since December last year, will assume the role of interim chair, while senior independent director Alastair Kerr – who had planned to step down in May – will bring forward his departure date to 1 January. Kerr will be succeeded by Karl Sternberg, who will lead the search for an external candidate to become chair of the trust.
Forseke said: “We are making good progress implementing the changes announced in October to accelerate our long-term strategy and we expect the new governance structure to be in place in early 2016.
“Alongside the new non-executive only board of the trust, excellent independent boards will be in place to oversee the development of Alliance Trust Investments and Alliance Trust Savings. As these changes are implemented, the chair of the trust’s role will change and as a result I believe now is the right time for me to move on.”
She added: “I feel privileged to have served this exceptional company over the past four years. The trust’s focus on customers and commitment to sustainability in all parts of its business permeates the whole organisation and is at the heart of its strong values and culture. I also want to thank all our stakeholders for their support over the past four years and, in particular, the executive and employees of Alliance Trust who demonstrate the Trust’s values on a daily basis through their commitment and determination.”
Kerr said: “I had planned to stand down in May 2016, but I feel that the new team should be responsible for identifying Karin’s successor, and standing down at this time will ensure a smooth transition.”