Alliance Trust appoints board directors after activist battle

Alliance Trust has appointed two board members, ending its shareholder wrangle with activist investors Elliott Investors.

Former Ignis Asset Management chief executive Chris Samuel will join the board, joined by Karl Sternberg, a founding partner of Oxford Investment Partners. 

To make room for the new hires current directors John Hylands and senior independent director Alastair Kerr will retire.

The new appointments come after a public dispute between Alliance Trust and its largest investor Elliott Investors, which cost Alliance Trust £3m, with the latter wanting to place three new independent non-executive directors on the board.

A ceasefire was called in April ahead of the AGM, with Alliance Trust agreeing to appoint two of Elliott’s candidates: former SG Warburg executive Anthony Brooke and former Morgan Grenfell corporate financier Rory Macnamara.

Together with the new appointments, at the 2016 AGM five of the nine board members will have been appointed since 2014.

“These appointments follow extensive consultation with our major shareholders. We remain fully committed to delivering measures that will address the feedback we have received from our shareholders,” says Karin Forseke, chair of Alliance Trust of the new hires.

Samuel left Ignis in 2009 when it was sold to Standard Life Investments. He is currently a director of the JP Morgan Japanese Investment Trust, and has previously worked at Gartmore, Hill Samuel and Cambridge Place Investment Management. 

Sternberg left Oxford Investment Partners in 2013. He is currently a director on a number of investment trust boards, and will become senior independent director at Alliance Trust.  

“I am delighted that Chris and Karl are joining the board as they both bring extensive knowledge of the industry from their careers in the investment and asset management sector,” says Forseke. “Investment is at the heart of Alliance Trust and is the key to our future success and I believe their skills and expertise are the ideal complement to an already strong board.”