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Scottish National Investment Bank hires CEO

New head: Al Denholm returns to Edinburgh

The Scottish National Investment Bank has ended its long search for a new chief executive with the appointment of asset manager Al Denholm.

Mr Denholm, originally from Edinburgh, has 36 years of asset management experience in the UK, Europe, Asia, and America and was most recently CIO of the £100bn Aviva Investment Solutions Business. 

His appointment comes 15 months after the bank’s first CEO Eilidh Mactaggart told her bosses she was leaving for ‘personal reasons’.

His starting salary is £240,000, close to the £235,800 paid to Ms Mactaggart whose total remuneration of £348,047 package was one of the highest in the public sector.

He was previously CIO and CEO of Prudential Portfolio Management Group, and has held senior investment leadership roles with Blackrock, ING, Insight and Scottish Widows.

To date the Bank has enabled over £1bn of investment into Scottish businesses, by directly committing over £415m of its own capital and enabling more than £680m of capital from other lenders and investors.

Mr Denholm, originally from Edinburgh, said: “I’m incredibly excited to pick up and build upon what has been achieved so far. 

“The Bank is ambitious, and I want to help further establish it as one of the best impact investors in the industry.

“I believe we can generate great social and environmental  impact and great returns for the people of Scotland.”

Earlier this week the Bank announced its 27th investment, providing £6.6m of support to Aberdeen based clean energy pioneers Verlume. Its flagship product Halo is a battery storage system which reserves power generated from intermittent renewable energy sources like wind power.

The Bank’s missions seek to address key challenges facing Scotland – the climate emergency, place-based inequality and investment in innovation.

Mr Denholm added: “I’m impressed to see how much work has been put in by the team and how far the Bank has come in such a short space of time.

“It is inspirational to be delivering impact for our communities through investments and I want us to look back in the decades to come with pride. Our discipline around impact investing provides us with expertise that institutional investors will be interested in.”

Chairman Willie Watt said: “Al brings a wealth of experience to the role, and I am confident he can continue to develop and grow the Bank on behalf of the people of Scotland.

“The Bank has made excellent progress in a short period of time, and I’d like to thank interim CEO Sarah Roughead and her Executive Team for their commitment.

“I look forward to Al’s leadership and continuing investment that will have a transformative impact on the economy of Scotland.”

Wellbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray commented: “The Bank has firmly established itself within Scotland’s investment landscape, and I am delighted that they have secured someone of Al’s considerable experience to support them on the next stage of their growth, particularly as the Bank continues to invest in projects and businesses which support our transition to a net zero economy.”

Ms Mactaggart told the taxpayer-funded bank of her decision to resign on 27 January last year just 14 months after it began operating. She officially resigned on 1 March.

Despite speculation over the reasons for her departure and why she received pay in lieu of notice, Mr Watt has always insisted she left for “personal reasons”.

Despite only being in post 16 months it emerged that she received a bonus and was paid a substantial sum in lieu of notice.

Launched in November 2020 with £2 billion over ten years, SNIB was set up to deliver patient, mission impact investment to the Scottish economy.

The bank, which is still searching for a chief investment officer, reported a £3.4m loss in its first year during which it invested £140 million in 12 projects.

Ms Mactaggart’s departure promoted much speculation around why she left and was also the subject of questions in the Scottish parliament.

Daily Business revealed in October last year that she had been listed as a contender for a Corporate Leader of the Year award.

The Edinburgh University graduate, a dual British and Australian national, previously worked for MetLife Investment Management, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and ABN Amro Bank. There has been no word on what she is currently doing.

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