Shareholders OK Alliance Trust £630m buyback

Alliance Trust chairman Robert Smith

Dundee-based investment firm Alliance Trust said its shareholders approved its radical plans to outsource its equity portfolio management and buy back the 19.75% stake of its biggest shareholder, US activist hedge fund Elliott Advisors.

According to Reuters data, Elliott’s stake is worth roughly £630 million.

However, 22.71% of shareholders voted against the resolution to grant authority to repurchase from Elliott, with 77.29% voting in favor.

About 83% of shareholders voted in favor of a resolution giving authority to buy back up to 95,478,576 shares.

Almost 98% voted to give authority to increase the buying back of Alliance Trust’s own shares by 5%, and about 96% supported the change to a multi-manager investment mandate.

“The board of Alliance Trust plc is pleased to announce that all resolutions put forward at a general meeting of the company earlier today were passed,” said Alliance Trust.

“The proposal that the company should change its investment mandate for the equity portfolio to a multi-manager approach has therefore been adopted.

“Arrangements for the new approach will now be finalised.

“It is expected that the company’s new investment manager, Willis Towers Watson, and the eight new underlying equity managers will have been formally appointed by early April.

“The board will provide updates on this process as and when appropriate.

“The proposal that the company should repurchase all ordinary shares in the company in respect of which Elliott International L.P., the Liverpool Limited Partnership and Elliott Associates L.P. (collectively ‘Elliott’, the company’s largest beneficial shareholders) has a disclosable interest, has also been approved.

“In accordance with the terms of the repurchase agreement between the company and Elliott, Elliott’s Shares will be bought back in five tranches, in each case at a price representing a 4.75% discount to the net asset value per ordinary share on the business day immediately preceding the relevant trade date.

“Authority was also received from shareholders for the company to increase its share buyback authority by a further five per cent.

“The board remains committed to its proactive approach to buying back ordinary shares, and going forward is prepared to do so at or around the same discount level as that of the share repurchase from Elliott so long as it is in shareholders’ best interests.”

Alliance Trust chairman Robert Smith said: “The Board is pleased to announce that all resolutions have been passed, and, in particular, is delighted by the 96% level of shareholder support for the new approach to investment management.

“The aim of the new approach is to achieve consistent outperformance at a competitive cost, with a progressive dividend policy.

“The focus of the board and the new investment manager is to deliver on those ambitions for many generations to come.”