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SNIB ‘making progress’ as CEO hunt goes on

Willie Watt
Willie Watt: activity has ramped up

The Scottish National Investment Bank has revealed that it is making “clear progress”, but has yet to replace its first chief executive, who left for personal reasons just months into the job after receiving pay and benefits worth almost £350,000.

Eilidh Mactaggart told the taxpayer-funded bank of her decision to resign in January just 14 months after it began operating.

SNIB’s annual report for the year to the end of March this year shows she received a base salary of £235,800 and pension payments of £25,938.

There is also £98,250 for five months’ payment in lieu of notice and 8.5 days’ unused annual leave (£7,709) paid in March 2022. Long term incentive plan (LTIP) awards allocated for FY21/22 and FY20/21 sustained performance were forfeited upon resignation and will not be released.

Her total £348,047 package is one of the highest in the public sector.

Questions have been raised about why Ms Mactaggart received notice pay. The bank said it reserves the right to make payment in lieu of notice where this is deemed to be in the interest of the bank.

Eilidh Mactaggart: resigned for personal reasons

Interim chief executive Sarah Roughead received £231,073 which included her period as chief financial officer and one month in her stand-in role for which she is receiving a base salary of £205,000.

The bank has 61 staff, including two on fixed term contracts, and 26 were paid between £50,001 and £100,000.

Executive directors are eligible to participate in the bank’s LTIP which is directly linked to delivery of the bank missions and objectives.

Consultancy costs totalled £549,308 (2021: £457,852 for a fourmonth period). The bank said one of its key focusessince launch has been to minimise the use of consultants. At 31 March 2022, three consultants were engaged. In addition, the bank works with two inward secondees from the Scottish Government.

Willie Watt, chair, said the bank was helping to get investment into private and third sector projects which may find funding “challenging”.

Sarah Roughead: interim role

Launched in November 2020 with £2 billion over ten years, SNIB was established to be a development investment bank, delivering patient, mission impact investment to the Scottish economy.

More than £140 million has been invested in 12 businesses and projects, including Highland Coast Hotels, Lothian Broadband Group and Aberdeen Harbour.

The bank’s investments have ranged from £1m to £50m across a variety of deal structures– debt, equity, and fund investments. All opportunities the bank considers are aligned to its missions and are commercial investment opportunities.

These investments have leveraged a further £327m from private and public sector investors. Net assets have risen from £31.4m to £165.4m at year end.

An unrealised loss of £3.4m has been recognised in the financial year, largely due to the early valuation profile of fund investments where unrealised losses are expected followed by capital appreciation in later years.

As a development bank, it is required to take increased risk with investments to prove the commercial viability of new markets and technologies, or to bridge an investment gap where the risk is perceived to be too high for private sector investors.

Headcount has doubled, but there was no update on a new chief executive. Chair Willie Watt told Daily Business in August that an appointment would “probably” be announced by the end of the year.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Mr Watt said: “This has been a year in which investment activity has ramped up and tangible impacts are manifesting themselves with our portfolio.

“The bank is acting as a catalyst to encourage investment in businesses or projects in the private and third sector in which it may otherwise be challenging to obtain funding.

“I am excited about the future; we have a strong team in place and are well placed to continue to deliver impact investment which has a material impact on the Scottish economy.” 

Ms Roughead said: “The bank has demonstrated its ability to be a catalyst for private investment into businesses and projects aligned to its missions. In doing so the bank has established itself as a credible financial institution within Scotland’s finance community.”

Looking forward Ms Roughead added: “As our portfolio and networks grow, the bank aims to offer deeper insights, working as a conduit between both policy makers and business leaders.

“This, together with continuing to increase awareness of the bank in the wider ecosystem, will be an area of focus for next year.”

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