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Shareholder loses fight over Murray VCTs

Shareholder Charles Clark has failed to replace the directors of Murray VCTs 1 to 3 after a three-month campaign backed by Aberdeen.

Clark gained 22 per cent of votes at an EGM held by Murray VCT 2 on Monday to remove the four existing directors and replace them with his proposed directors, and 28 per cent in a similar vote relating to Murray VCT 3.

At the time of going to press, his spokeswoman said he expected to lose a subsequent vote at an EGM for Murray VCT 1 by a similar margin.

Clark set up an action group at the end of May after the boards of the three poorly performing VCTs decided to switch management from Aberdeen to Close Venture Management. The boards subsequently agreed to merge the trusts.

In August, Close threatened to resign as manager of the trusts if Clark won the shareholder votes.

Aberdeen offered Clark use of its public relations firm Maitland and legal services firm Rosenblatts. It also paid for a proxy solicitation agency to contact shareholders.

Asked how providing these services benefited Aberdeen, which says it has no interest in regaining management of the VCTs, Aberdeen spokeswoman Fiona Piper says: “Mr Clark approached the company, arguing that the boards had acted unrea- sonably and that the shareholders of those companies had been unfairly saddled with the cost of 1.1m paid to Murray Johnstone in termination fees.

“Having some sympathy with his argument, we felt it was in the group’s interests to support the action of a shareholder who was trying to rectify a situation that we believed to be both unreasonable and detrimental to the reputations of Aberdeen Asset Management and some of its senior fund managers.”

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