Alliance Trust chair quits in board shakeup

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Alliance Trust director Karin Forseke has stepped down as chair of the investment trust’s board, as the fund overhauls its board governance structure.

Forseke will step down from the trust on 1 January 2016, with non-executive director Gregor Stewart taking the role of interim chair while a replacement is found.

As part of the shift Alastair Kerr, senior independent director, will step down from the board earlier than planned. Kerr had previously announced he would step down in May 2016, but will now leave at the start of January too.

Karl Sternberg will take the senior independent director role and will lead the search for a new chair. Sternberg, a founding partner of Oxford Investment Partners, joined the board earlier this year following a public war of words between Alliance Trust and investor Elliott Advisors, an activist hedge fund.

“We are making good progress implementing the changes announced in October to accelerate our long-term strategy and we expect the new governance structure to be in place in early 2016,” says Forseke.

“Alongside the new non-executive only board of the trust, excellent independent boards will be in place to oversee the development of Alliance Trust Investments and Alliance Trust Savings. As these changes are implemented, the chair of the trust’s role will change and as a result I believe now is the right time for me to move on.”

Kerr said of his departure: “We have set out the strategy for Alliance Trust and I am confident that the new structure will allow it to flourish. I had planned to stand down in May 2016, but I feel that the new team should be responsible for identifying Karin’s successor and standing down at this time will ensure a smooth transition.”

Forseke’s departure comes as the board seeks to establish an independent board.

In September, Alliance Trust announced £6m of cost savings alongside a shakeup of the business. The moves included changing the charging structure for the fund, appointing a management contract for the investment management of the trust and the creation of a new board for the investment division.

At the time Elliott Advisors said it would wait to see if the planned changes improved performance at the trust.