Banking giants Lloyds and RBS have confirmed they could move their headquarters to England if Scotland votes to leave the UK in next week’s referendum.
The banks, which are partly owned by the UK taxpayer after being bailed out in the wake of the financial crisis, have both issued statements in outlining plans to re-domicile if the Yes campaign wins out on 18 September.
A Lloyds spokeswoman says: “While the scale of potential change is currently unclear, we have contingency plans in place which include the establishment of new legal entities in England.
“This is a legal procedure and there would be no immediate changes or issues which could affect our business or our customers.
“There will be a period between the referendum and the implementation of separation, should a Yes vote be successful, that we believe should be sufficient to take any necessary action.”
An RBS spokesman says: “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. For this reason, RBS has undertaken contingency planning for the possible business implications of a ‘Yes’ vote.
“RBS believes that this is the responsible and prudent thing to do and something that its customers, staff and shareholders would expect it to do.
“As part of such contingency planning, RBS believes that it would be necessary to re-domicile the Bank’s holding company and its primary rated operating entity (The Royal Bank of Scotland plc) to England.
“In the event of a Yes vote, the decision to re-domicile should have no impact on everyday banking services used by our customers throughout the British Isles.”
Clydesdale Bank has also announced plans to re-register in England in the event of a Yes vote in order to mitigate risks and provide increased certainty for customers during the independence negotiations and beyond.
Clydesdale Bank chief executive David Thorburn says: “We have strong roots in Scotland and we remain fully committed to our customers, staff and the communities in which we operate. Any change tothe company’slegal structure would have no impact on the vast majority of the Bank’s staff. Clydesdale Bank would continue to serve its customers just as it has since 1838 and Glasgow will continue to be the Bank’s key operational centre.”
The news comes after Standard Life, which is currently based in Edinburgh, set out its contingency plans ahead of the referendum, including establishing new registered companies south of the border.
Yesterday, Bank of England governor Mark Carney suggested to the Treasury select committee that an independent Scotland which wanted to use the pound outside of an official currency union would have to build sterling reserves of around 25 per cent of GDP.
Scottish GDP is estimated to be worth around £146bn including the oil industry and so that would mean it could have to raise £26bn in reserves.
He said: “Countries which run successful currency sharing generally have large reserves.”