RBS would leave Scotland in case of independence

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

LONDON (AP) — In a blow to the Scottish independence campaign, three top financial groups, including the Royal Bank of Scotland, say they will move headquarters to England should Scots vote to break away from the United Kingdom.

RBS, which has been based in Scotland since 1727, said Thursday it has drawn up contingency plans because being based in an independent Scotland would create uncertainties that could hurt its business and customers.

"There are a number of material uncertainties arising from the Scottish referendum vote which could have a bearing on the bank's credit ratings, and the fiscal, monetary, legal and regulatory landscape to which it is subject," the bank said in a statement.

The bank, a key employer in Scotland and a symbol of its financial sector, also said it would be necessary to re-domicile its holding company and its main operating entity, the Royal Bank of Scotland PLC, to England.

Thursday's warning came a day after Lloyds Banking Group, which owns Halifax and Bank of Scotland, said it had plans in place to set up new "legal entities" in England if the Yes campaign succeeds. The financial group Standard Life also said it was ready to move parts of its business to England in case of independence.

Both Lloyds and RBS said the potential changes were legal procedures that would not impact their operations and jobs.

Scotland's leading politician, Alex Salmond, denied that the confusion over what currency an independent Scotland would use was causing uncertainty in the financial markets.

Instead he shifted blame on the British government, saying it was being unreasonable in refusing to come to an agreement on a common currency with Scotland.