The Business On: Katherine Garrett-Cox, Chief executive, Alliance Trust

Click to follow
The Independent Online

One of the rare breed of female FTSE 100 bosses?

She used to be. But these days, Alliance Trust isn't big enough to qualify for inclusion in the blue chip index – not least because its shares trade at a 14 per cent discount to the value of its assets.

Oh dear, has Ms Garrett-Cox been underperforming?

Actually, Alliance, which reported its half-year results yesterday, is doing okay – it's beaten the index so far this year. But Ms Garrett-Cox does have her critics – not least dissident shareholders who have pressed her to do more to get the discount down.

What does she have to say for herself?

Plenty. In May, she saw off Laxey Partners, one of those shareholders, which proposed the company should adopt an automatic discount reduction mechanism. Yesterday, she said the fund had addressed the problem by improving investment performance and by buying back shares more regularly.

So is she positive about the future outlook?

She thinks Alliance is heading in the right direction, but she's worried about the outlook for stock markets. She calls the efforts of the eurozone's political leaders to get to grips with the debt crisis "bailout botox".

An eye for the soundbite then?

She's always made good copy – not least with the inevitable chatter about her gender (and the fact she's managed to hold down a string of high-profile jobs despite having four young kids).

And will she stay at Alliance?

As far as we know – particularly since moving to the firm in 2007 was partly a lifestyle choice. Dundee, Alliance's home, has plenty of charms but the pace of life is a little slower than in the City, or even Edinburgh.

Even with those difficult shareholders acting up?

Actually, Ms Garrett-Cox thinks Laxey's challenge was helpful, since it helped focus minds at Alliance. She's been dubbed "Katherine the Great" in the past, but seems disinclined to be brutal these days.