Morningstar holds neutral rating on Alliance Trust IT

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Morningstar has retained its neutral analyst rating on Alliance Trust Investment Trust following the departure of Katherine Garrett-Cox after nine years with the company.

Garrett-Cox, who is chief executive of Alliance Trust Investments – the asset management arm of the company, will leave on 11 March, also relinquishing her seat on the board.

Senior manager research analyst at the ratings agency, David Holder, says her departure was not “entirely surprising”.

He says: “[It] comes on the back of sustained efforts by US activist investor Elliott Associates to prompt the board of Alliance Trust Plc to undertake a thorough review of the investment trust’s management.”

He says the board now has an average tenure of just 18 months, which reflects the number of recent changes.

“Elliott Associates’ stake is currently around 10 per cent with a further 5 per cent interest through contracts for difference.

“Alliance Trust Investments has indicated that investors can expect continuity in the investment approach and process used to manage the investment trust subsequent to Ms Garrett–Cox’s departure.

“We believe that the investment team should now be allowed to focus on meeting their objectives for the benefit of shareholders.”

Alliance Trust Investments manages over £5.3bn of assets, of which £3.3bn sits with the investment trust.

Garrett-Cox’s responsibilities will be divided between Peter Michaelis and Ramsay Urquhart, with the former taking on the investment responsibilities.

Michaelis joined the firm in August 2012 after 11 years at Aviva Investors, where he became head of sustainable and responsible investments.