Baillie Gifford trust adds two female directors after shareholder dissent

Journalist Meryn Somerset-Webb is due to step down from the board next year


Baillie Gifford Shin Nippon has appointed two female non-executive directors to the board following a significant number of votes against the reappointment of the chairman at the £798m investment trust’s AGM.

A regulatory filing on Monday confirmed Claire Finn and Abigail Rotheroe would join the board of the investment trust, which is managed by Praveen Kumar (pictured) and entered the FTSE 250 a year ago. Both Finn and Rotheroe have significant experience in asset management, including roles in Asia at the start of their careers.

The RNS noted their appointments followed the “significant number of votes” against the re-appointment of chairman Neil Donaldson at the annual general meeting in May. The board engaged with shareholders and found concerns related to board composition, notably its lack of gender diversity. 

Donaldson was appointed a director in 2014 and became chairman the following year. Other directors on the board include Jamie Skinner and Kevin Troup, who both had careers in the asset management industry, while Sethu Vijayakumar is a professor of robotics at the University of Edinburgh. Journalist Meryn Somerset-Webb had been the only woman on the board and is due to step down in May 2022.

Two new non-execs have both had investment careers in Asia

Finn began her career in Japan in 1995 before moving back to London in 1999 to work for Tokyo Mitsubishi Bank. From 2005, she was vice president of product development at Merrill Lynch Investment Managers and became part of the distribution team when the firm was acquired by Blackrock. She ultimately became managing director of defined contributions, unit linked and platforms.

She left that role in 2018 and currently serves on a number of boards, including The Law Debenture Corporation PLC, Octopus Apollo VCT PLC, Artemis Fund Managers Limited and Sparrows Capital Limited.

Finn’s appointment is effective immediately.

Additionally, Rotheroe will join the board in March 2022. Rotheroe began her investment career on the Japanese desk at Schroders in 1987. She worked for Schroders in Hong Kong before joining HSBC, where she managed Asia-Pacific equity portfolios for Japanese clients. On her return to London in 1994, she joined Threadneedle Investments with responsibility for the Threadneedle Asia Growth, Threadneedle Asia and Pacific including Japan Growth and TIML India funds.

Since 2013 she has been focused on social and impact investing and is the investment director of Snowball Impact Management.

Donaldson will remain as chairman despite the significant shareholder vote against his re-election.

See also: Fresh Baillie Gifford investment trust slips into the FTSE 250


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