Dundee firm issues new warning

Alliance Trust says it is ‘ready to act’ if political uncertainty persists

Karin ForsekeAlliance Trust has warned today that it remains ‘ready to act’ in a renewed warning to politicians over the continued uncertainty of further devolution.

Karin Forseke, chairman of the Dundee-based company said last year was “an unsettling period” for many of its shareholders and customers, particularly those outside Scotland and.

“Inevitably we, along with other Scottish-based companies, were affected,” she said. “While the debate over the extent of future devolution continues, we would urge all participants to recognise that an extended period of uncertainty is not in the interests either of business or the economy as a whole and we remain ready to act as necessary to protect our shareholders’ and customers’ interests.”

Without making any specific threat to leave Scotland, Ms Forseke’s comments will be seen as another stark reminder that businesses will not tolerate the ongoing debate over constitutional change if they believe it works against their interests.

Chief executive Katherine Garrett-Cox also commented on the political and economic environment, predicting that interest rates may stay at their record low well beyond next year.

“We believe that the reduction in the rate of inflation in December 2014 to 0.5% will mean that interest rates are going to remain low for longer. Commentators have been predicting that interest rates in the UK will rise “next year” for at least the last two years, there is a high probability that they will be using the same words this time next year,” she said.

Annual results included a special dividend for shareholders. Ms Garrett-Cox said the business had performed particularly strongly in second half of the year,

“Alliance Trust is in more robust health than it has been at any time in the last six years,” she said.

“This has not happened overnight, but is the result of the series of improvements that we have made over that time, not least the actions that we have taken in the last twelve months.

“At the half year, we commented that the results for the first six months had been disappointing and this was always going to have a bearing on the results for the full year. However, I am pleased to report that the second half performance represents a complete contrast to the first.”

The net asset value total return was 0.3% in the first half and 7.8% in the second, making 8.1% for the full year. Total shareholder return ranks median or above, relative to its peers, over six months, one, three, five and seven years. The company has delivered top quartile annualised total dividend growth over the same period.

“We know that this combination of capital growth and a consistently rising dividend are an important differentiator for the Trust,” said Ms Garrett-Cox.

The directors have declared a special dividend of 2.546p per share payable on 30 June 2015 to shareholders on the register on 5 June 2015.

The total dividend of 12.38p represents a 14.3% increase and is up for the 48th consecutive year.

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