Reuters / Stefan Wermuth
Partly-nationalized British banks Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) both say they would relocate their headquarters to London if Scots vote for independence on September 18.
Recent polls indicating pro-union and independence camps are neck and neck have rocked British financial markets and pushed the pound to its lowest value since November.
RBS, which has been based in Scotland since 1727, claimed it would be “necessary to re-domicile the bank’s holding company” because of“a number of material uncertainties arising from the Scottish referendum vote.”
In a statement, the bank claimed independence could have a bearing on “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.”
AFP Photo / Shaun Curry
In a letter to its 16,000 Scottish-based staff, the bank’s chief executive said it had no intention to move operations or jobs. A Treasury source told the BBC that it had discussed the plans with RBS.
Lloyds Banking Group said it could also shift some of its business from Scotland. However, it characterized the plan as a legal procedure and said “there would be no immediate changes or issues.”
The Treasury welcomed the move, which would ensure the bank is protected by the Bank of England and shore up its credit rating.
“Lloyds Banking Group has seen an increased level of enquiries from our customers, colleagues and other stakeholders about our plans post the Scottish referendum,” a statement from Lloyds read.
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