Alliance Trust in £5bn merger talks with Rothschild fund

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Alliance Trust has confirmed that it is in talks over a £5bn merger with RIT Capital Partners.

The investment group says it has had an informal approach from RIT, an investment trust chaired by Lord Rothschild, but added no further details.

The combined firms would be worth around £5bn, as Alliance is valued at £2.6bn and RIT at £2.4bn.

Dundee-based Alliance says it will now speak to its shareholders about the proposals.

Last year Alliance came under fire from investors over its leadership. Elliott Advisors, which owns 16 per cent of the firm, called for new leadership in spring 2015.

The campaign led to the exit of chairwoman Karin Forseke and chief executive Katherine Garrett-Cox.

An Alliance Trust statement says: “RIT Capital Partners has approached Alliance Trust with an informal proposal for a merger of the two companies.

“However, no detailed terms have been provided by RIT with regard to the proposal or in respect of the Company’s two principal operating subsidiaries. The Board of Alliance Trust will incorporate any formal merger proposal received from RIT into its strategic review, alongside the other options being considered.

“There can be no certainty that any transaction will result from the strategic review. In the interim, shareholders are strongly advised to take no action and to await the outcome of the Board’s strategic review.”

According to the Takeover Code RIT must announce its intention, or not, to make an offer by 27 June 2016.

Hargreaves Lansdown head of investment research Mark Dampier says:A merger of RIT and Alliance Trust would create the largest investment trust in the UK and increase liquidity of both trusts dramatically.

“However both trusts are widely different in their objectives and philosophy. The politics of Alliance Trust’s Scottish base, savings scheme and platform will make this a potentially complex merger.”