Katherine Garrett-Cox, one of the City’s most high profile women, will leave Alliance Trust after nine years at the investment firm, which settled a long dispute with its activist investor last year.
Garrett-Cox will step down as chief executive of Alliance Trust’s fund management arm, Alliance Trust Investments, on 11 March. She quit the company’s main board in October after losing out in a gruelling dispute with Elliott Advisors, Alliance Trust’s largest shareholder.
The US hedge fund pushed for change at the top of Alliance Trust, one of Britain’s oldest investment firms. Elliott accused the Dundee-based company of paying executives too much for poor performance under Garrett-Cox’s leadership.
After rejecting Elliott as an opportunist agitator, Alliance Trust crumbled under shareholder pressure in April and appointed two of Elliott’s nominees to the board last April.
Alliance Trust spent £3m trying to repel Elliott but later agreed to cut costs, split fund management from its wealth management operation and buy back shares to increase shareholder returns.
Karin Forseke, who led the fight against Elliott, stepped down at the start of this year. Garrett-Cox, 48, is leaving by mutual agreement after her job became obsolete under the restructuring plan, the company said. She joined Alliance Trust in 2007 and became chief executive in 2008.
Alliance Trust said Garrett-Cox, nicknamed Katherine the Great for her prominence in financial circles, was paid £1.4m for 2015, up from £1.3m the year before. She will be paid her salary of £450,000 for this year. She will also hold on to about 800,000 Alliance Trust shares in the company’s long-term incentive plan. Those shares, worth about £3.7m at the current share price, will pay out, depending on financial performance, over the next three years.
Lord Smith of Kelvin, Alliance Trust’s chairman said: “Alliance Trust is now moving swiftly to implement the changes announced last year which are designed to enhance shareholder returns. This process is well under way and it is clear to us all that the role of chief executive of Alliance Trust Investments has changed significantly. I and the rest of the board wish Katherine every success in the future.”
Alliance Trust said Garrett-Cox’s responsibilities would be shared out between other senior employees. Alliance Trust Investment manages about £5.3bn, including £2bn of third-party funds brought in by Garrett-Cox.
Garrett-Cox said she had represented and protected the long-term interests of Alliance Trust’s shareholders.
“I am very proud of the significant achievements that my team has delivered over the past nine years at Alliance Trust. I leave Alliance Trust Investments with a strong team who are already delivering improved investment returns and driving down costs.”
This article was written by Sean Farrell, for theguardian.com on Monday 15th February 2016 11.56 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010