Abrdn shareholders revolt on directors, share plans

Brian McBride and Catherine Bradley

Edinburgh-based investment giant Abrdn plc announced that all resolutions put to its Annual General Meeting on Wednesday were passed — but some of the votes faced significant opposition.

About 16.45% of shareholders voted against the re-election of Brian McBride as a director, and 15.75% voted against the election Catherine Bradley CBE as a director.

About 19% of shareholders voted against a resolution to authorise directors to issue further shares, 17% voted against a resolution to disapply share pre-emption rights, 17% voted against a resolution to authorise directors to allot shares in relation to the issuance of convertible bonds, and 18% voted against a resolution to “disapply pre-emption rights in respect of allotments of equity securities in relation to the issuance of convertible bonds.”

Martin Pike and Jutta af Rosenborg did not seek re-election to the board. John Devine has been appointed chair of the Risk & Capital Committee and Catherine Bradley has been appointed chair of the Audit Committee and member of the Nomination & Governance Committee.

McBride has been on the Abrdn board since May 2020. He is currently chair of Trainline plc and the lead non-executive director on the board of the UK Ministry of Defence.

McBride is also a senior adviser to Scottish Equity Partners. Further, in February 2022 it was announced that he will become the next president of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), and has been appointed to the role of vice president until the CBI’s AGM in June 2022.

Bradley was appointed to the Abrdn board in January, with the company saying she has “more than 30 years of executive experience advising global financial institutions and industrial companies on complex transactions and strategic opportunities.”

Bradley is a non-executive director of Johnson Electric Holdings Limited and of easyJet plc, where she chairs the finance committee. She is senior independent director of Kingfisher plc and a board member of the Value Reporting Foundation, where she co-chairs the audit committee.

She also chairs the investment committee of the Athenaeum Club.

Bradley was appointed to the board of the Financial Conduct Authority in 2014 and played an important role in establishing the FICC Markets Standards Board in 2015. She stepped down from these boards in 2020.

Bradley has held a number of senior finance roles in investment banking and risk management — working in the US with Merrill Lynch, in the UK and Asia with Credit Suisse, and in Asia with Société Générale.