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Do Alliance Trust directors deserve the support of their thousands of individual investors in resisting Elliott Advisors’ attempts to influence the company’s performance? Or is the hedge fund genuinely seeking long term improvement, rather than just looking for short term gain?

The UK Shareholders’ Association (UKSA) believes that, as always, investors must answer these questions for themselves, but our concern is that many may be left out of this process. Once again, those holding shares in nominee accounts are liable to be left ill-informed and potentially without the ability to vote or, as one large broker has declared, have their shares voted instead, in bulk, by their nominees as they think fit. This is a continuing scandal, which the new government must address.

Alliance Trust has an annual investor forum in London, in addition to its AGM in Dundee, so its directors make an effort to engage with investors. Those in its own savings scheme will also receive regular information, but perhaps more is required to facilitate investor input, especially for the thousands of investors in other nominee accounts. Four years ago, UKSA asked the Trust’s directors to establish a representative private shareholders’ committee, to enable regular, two-way engagement to take place. The Alliance Trust board rejected this idea, but may be regretting this now it wants active investor support.

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