Examination of Witnesses(Questions 400-419)|
TUESDAY 29 OCTOBER 2002
400. But the question I am asking is quite a
simple question, Mr Currie. Did you market some of your splits
as low risk?
(Mr Currie) We marketed
401. Exactly, which you said you did not do
(Mr Currie) We marketed the share plan
in which all participating shares of closed end funds managed
by Aberdeen are there. We have never hidden that. That is not
402. Mr Fishwick, did you jump or were you pushed?
And it is lovely to see you!
(Mr Fishwick) I am delighted to be here
actually, to be honest with you. Did I jump or was I pushed? It
became quite clear to me that it was not benefiting Aberdeen Asset
Management being there any longer with the constant press scrutiny,
looking for a scapegoat to be driven out. Actually I went to Martin
and said to him, "This is not in our shareholders' interest,
it is not in my colleagues' interest and it is not in mine or
my family's interest. Let's come to some kind of compromise agreement
to part ways". Martin tried to persuade me to stay and I
said, "Look, at the end of the day I just do not think it
is right for the company or my family. The press will hound us
until they get a result, rather like they hound ministers",
and I said, "We might as well give them what they want. I
want to get on with my life. I am very happy to stay and help
403. So you resigned?
(Mr Fishwick) It was a compromise agreement
between us both, yes.
404. So if you resigned, why did you get £350,000?
(Mr Gilbert) No, Chris did not resign.
He approached us. I tried to persuade him to stay and he said,
"Look, it's really the best thing for the company if I go",
and the Board agreed with that assessment and reached
405. So he resigned?
(Mr Gilbert) No, he did not resign.
406. So he was pushed?
(Mr Fishwick) A bit of both.
(Mr Gilbert) He resigned and he was pushed, a mutual
407. Okay. You went with £350,000, but
you also went with £1.4 million, did you not, because if
you stayed on until 30 September, you would get that extra £1.4
million, so why did you not go at the 30 August and put that £1
million back into Aberdeen and help the people who have lost their
(Mr Fishwick) Why did I not go on the
408. And save the £1.4 million.
(Mr Fishwick) It is no different from
why I did not go at Christmas last year. It makes no difference.
At the end of the day when you have got TV cameras flying over
your house, and I did not seek public office, and cameras sticking
through your doors, eventually it just became unbearable.
409. Well, do you think the catastrophic performance
of the funds you managed justified your level of pay?
(Mr Fishwick) Well, my level of pay,
as you are aware, is not set by myself. It is set by the independent
directors of our company who meet every year. They decide what
my remuneration is and they then put it to all our shareholders
who vote on it every year, and I abide by that decision of what
is paid. I would love to be able to pay myself, but unfortunately
that is not the way it is.
410. So we ought to be having one of your directors
here to give us a glowing report on Chris Fishwick which said,
"Look, we think he is worth several million pounds over two
years"? We will maybe do that.
(Mr Fishwick) I think they would do.
They awarded me my remuneration and they voted in favour of it.
In fact I checked this out the other day because I thought you
would ask me that question and the vote in favour of our remuneration
last year was 95.6 per cent in favour.
411. This is better than Saddam Hussein!
(Mr Fishwick) Well, some did vote against.
412. Just as a quick supplementary to Mr Fishwick
on whether it was push or resign, do we take it that you are getting
out of the split capital business?
(Mr Fishwick) I am getting out of the
City, quite frankly, but I am prepared to work and answer questions
for yourselves and the FSA for the next 18 months or as long as
it is necessary. I am at the beck and call of Aberdeen to answer
any questions, but yes, I am having a career direction change.
413. Are you still on the Board of Treasury
(Mr Fishwick) Yes, I am on the Board
of Treasury Holdings.
414. Is it correct that Treasury Holdings is
bidding to take control of Real Estate Opportunities?
(Mr Fishwick) No, it is not correct.
They are not bidding to take control of Real Estate Opportunities,
415. Is it trying to get any stake in it at
(Mr Fishwick) No. Treasury Holdings has
a stake in the company,
as it has had from launch, which it is not allowed to add to under
listing rules and what has actually happened is that the press
have misinterpreted the story and not checked the facts. Each
time the company buys in its own shares, its percentage of the
company goes up because that is what is left. It is simple mathematics.
It is just scaremongering. If Treasury Holdings was intending
to bid for REO, it is a public company, it would have to announce
it, and it has made no intentions to do so. It has always been
an investor in the company from the very beginning, eight years
416. Has Treasury Holdings got any interest
in split capital trusts?
(Mr Fishwick) As a company, only its
holding in REO. It has no other investments in split capital trusts.
417. So it is true to say that through your
involvement in Treasury Holdings, you will still be involved in
the split capital business?
(Mr Fishwick) Yes, I am a non-executive
director of Treasury Holdings, not a shareholder, so in effect
418. Like a quasi-guarantee?
(Mr Fishwick) No.
419. Incidentally, what does "quasi-guarantee"
(Mr Fishwick) To me or to you?
7 Note by Witness: AITC Directors Handbook Chapter
13 Section 8-1, "A typical split will have two or three classes
of share'.with the share classes ranking highest being the lowest
risk, as they will be fairly well assured of receiving the pre-determined
return. Those at the bottom of the list will be high risk, as
they only receive what is left when the highest ranking classes
of share have been satisfied". Back
Note by Witness: The characteristics of individual zeros
available through the Aberdeen Investment Trust Share Plan are
disclosed in the Plan literature, including Risk Factors in the
Key feature documentation as well as quarterly fact sheets. All
marketing material is approved by Compliance department and in
accordance with Section 57 of the Financial Services Act 1986.
Performance information and key statistics included in the documentation
are updated quarterly. Plan members receive annual and interim
reports of their investments as well as six monthly valuation
Note by Witness: Treasury Holdings already has a substantial
stake in the company. Back