Alliance Trust has started work on establishing an English corporate presence ahead of September's referendum on Scottish independence.
'We have always been and continue to remain focused on the service we provide to all our shareholders and customers across the UK and beyond. 2014 is an important year for Scotland. The referendum in September is creating uncertainty for our customers and our business, which we have a responsibility to address,’ Alliance Trust chief executive Katherine Garrett-Cox (pictured) told the market in a statement accompanying the 126th set of annual results from the Dundee-based trust.
‘Regardless of the outcome it is critical that we are able to provide continuity of service and protection for their investments and savings. To give them full confidence, we have started work to establish additional companies registered in England, in order to provide operational flexibility and to complement our existing business in Scotland.’
‘We know that we cannot afford to stand still, as change, be it regulatory, political or business-related, is a critical part of the world in which we operate.’
The trust delivered a net asset value return of 18.4% in 2013 and a total shareholder return of 22.7%. This followed double-digit returns in 2012 and represented the trust’s best absolute return and total return for three and eight years respectively.
The difference in these returns is down the narrowing discount, which ended the year at 12.9%. The discount stood under 14% for most of 2013, the first time it has traded consistently at this level since 2006.
But Garrett-Cox said the Trust could do better: ‘While we recognise these numbers are improving, there is always work to be done and we maintain our focus on delivering improved investment performance and a narrow discount.’
The trust also kept its tradition of increasing its dividend in each of the last 47 years with a 3% rise in the ordinary dividend. This was accompanied by a special dividend of £1.282p to give an overall increase of 12.5% for the year.
Elsewhere across the business Alliance Trust Savings made its first full-year profit for eight years as assets under administration jumped 33% to £5.4 billion.
Meanwhile Alliance Trust Investments, its funds business, produced a 16% rise in assets under management.