Robert Smith new chairman of Alliance Trust

Green Investment Bank chairman Robert Smith

Dundee-based investment trust company Alliance Trust said it appointed veteran Scottish financier and businessman Robert Smith, Lord Smith of Kelvin, as its new chairman.

Alliance Trust, which has been under prolonged pressure from US activist shareholder Elliott Advisors to restructure, said in November that previous chair Karin Forseke would leave her post on January 1, 2016.

Forseke’s departure followed big changes at Alliance Trust in October which included Katherine Garrett-Cox stepping down as chief executive of Alliance’s parent company but remaining as boss of fund management subsidiary Alliance Trust Investments.

Smith, who chaired the commission on further Scottish devolution after the independence referendum, is expected to take up his position as chairman on February 1, subject to regulatory approval.

Smith is currently chairman of UK Green Investment Bank, Forth Ports and engineering firm IMI.

He was previously chairman of Glasgow-based engineering company Weir Group and of Perth-based energy giant SSE, and a non-executive director of Standard Bank Group.

Between 1996 and 2002, Smith was chief executive and then vice chairman of Morgan Grenfell Asset Management (latterly Deutsche Asset Management), at the time the largest pension fund manager in the UK and a leading asset manager in Germany.

“This direct knowledge of investment management was particularly attractive to the board, as was his previous experience of private equity investing, where he began his career in finance,” said Alliance Trust.

Alliance Trust said Gregor Stewart will become deputy chairman.

Smith said: “Alliance Trust is an important business with a long and proud history in Scotland and around the world.

“I am looking forward to getting started and playing my part in delivering the changes that are necessary to return the Trust to the levels of performance upon which it has earned its reputation and success.

“I am particularly pleased to be working with Gregor Stewart as my deputy chairman and Karl Sternberg as the senior independent director.”

Stewart said: “We very much look forward to Robert joining us as our chairman.

“The board has been working hard on implementing the plans announced on 1st October 2015, which include creating separate boards for our savings platform and investment management subsidiaries.

“The board’s focus is on investment performance, on creating natural demand for our shares and on reducing the Trust’s discount.”