Board reshuffle at Dundee firm

Forseke steps down from chair at Alliance Trust

Karin ForsekeAlliance Trust has announced that chairman Karin Forseke will step down from the board on 1 January.

She is the latest director to leave the board, following chief executive Katherine Garrett-Cox and chief financial officer Alan Trotter who stepped down on 1 October.

In a statement today, the company said Ms Forseke’s departure is part of the company’s plan to implement a number of “significant changes intended to position the company better to deliver consistent outperformance in a cost-effective manner.”

As part of these changes, the company is reorganising its governance structure to create a wholly independent board.

In a statement, the board said: “Ms Forseke believes that, as this process nears completion, it is the appropriate time for her to step down.”

The changes will see the £2.5 billion trust’s plc board become “fully independent, comprising solely non-executive directors”.

Gregor Stewart, who has been a non-executive director since December 2014, will succeed her in an interim role while a new chairman is found.

Earlier this year Ms Forseke was forced to defend the company against a ferocious challenge from New York based shareholder Elliott Advisers demanding a shake-up of the board and a shift of direction.

Two directors were installed in a face-saving move just ahead of the annual general meeting in April when it looked like there could have been a bloodbath. In September, the board made two more non-exec appointments,  including former chief executive of Ignis Asset Management Chris Samuel..

Alastair Kerr, senior independent director, will also stand down from the board on 1 January, succeeded by Karl Sternberg who will lead the search for a new chairman. The board indicated that it would an external appointment.

Ms 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.

“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.”

Mr Kerr said: “We have set out the strategy for Alliance Trust and I am confident that the new structure will allow it to flourish. 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.

“I would like to thank Karin for her hard work and dedication during her time as Chair. While it has been a challenging period, the Trust has generated a total shareholder return of 51%, well ahead of the MSCI All Country World Index total return of 43.4%. The Trust has undergone significant change under her leadership and is well-placed to continue to deliver returns for all its shareholders.”


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