Alliance Trust considers sale of savings business

Robert Smith

Dundee-based investment firm Alliance Trust plc said on Thursday it has received “a number of expressions of interest” in buying its Alliance Trust Savings (ATS) business.

The news of a potential sale came as Alliance Trust uneviled its results for six months ended June 30, 2018.

“Over the period Alliance Trust Savings (ATS) has delivered an improvement in both customer service and operational performance,” said the Dundee firm.

“We have received a number of expressions of interest in ATS and are currently considering whether a change of ownership would be in the interests of Alliance Trust shareholders and ATS’ customers and staff.

“Discussions with interested parties, each of whom envisage maintaining or growing ATS’ presence in Dundee, are at an early stage and there can be no certainty that the board of Alliance Trust will decide to sell ATS.”

Alliance Trust reported total shareholder return (TSR) of 1.1%, net asset value (NAV) total return of 2.9% and an equity portfolio total return of 2.9% compared with MSCI ACWI total return of 2.3%.

Alliance Trust said that since it appointed external asset manager Willis Towers Watson (WTW) in April last year, its equity portfolio has delivered a total return of 12.9% and the trust a NAV total return of 12.3% compared to the MSCI ACWI’s 10.1% over the same period.

Interim dividend will be 3.389p, representing an increase of 3% year on year and “over 50 years of successive dividend growth.”

Alliance Trust plc chairman Robert Smith said: “I am pleased to report another period of steady performance against an increasingly volatile market backdrop, driven by returns from the global equity portfolio constructed by WTW, which now represents 95% of the Trust assets.

“We are on track to deliver the target we set when we started our new investment strategy on 1 April 2017, of outperformance of 2% more than the benchmark after costs over a rolling three year period.

“I am also pleased that we have declared a 3% year-on-year increase in our interim dividend, as we celebrate over half a century of growing our dividend.

“Although the short-term market future looks set to remain uncertain, we remain focused on consistent outperformance over the long-term, at a competitive cost.

“We are encouraged by the steady progress made by WTW’s “all-weather” approach to active stock picking.

“Our diversified, high conviction portfolio is designed to deliver consistent outperformance, irrespective of the dominant drivers of returns in any given period, with low volatility.

“We believe that the Trust now has a highly differentiated offer for investors that will continue to deliver attractive and sustainable returns for shareholders.”