Life and pensions group Scottish Widows has insisted it remains committed to Edinburgh after transferring billions of pounds of life insurance business south of the Border.
The insurer, founded two centuries ago, said the switch of its long-term insurance to a company registered in London would have “no impact” on its 3,000-strong workforce in the Scottish capital, and dismissed suggestions that the move was linked to the independence referendum of 2014 or the looming vote on the UK’s membership of the European Union.
Under the move, which was rubber-stamped by the High Court in London at the end of last year, all the policies of various group companies – including Clerical Medical Managed Funds, Halifax Life, Pensions Management, Scottish Widows, Scottish Widows Annuities, Scottish Widows Unit Funds and St Andrew’s Life Assurance – have been transferred to a single entity called Clerical Medical Investment Group (CMIG).
CMIG was then renamed as Scottish Widows Limited and its registered office address changed to 25 Gresham Street, London – the headquarters of parent firm Lloyds Banking Group, which reports its annual results later this week.
In a statement, Scottish Widows said: “In December last year, we made a technical change to enable us to consolidate all of the long-term UK insurance business of the Scottish Widows Group, previously written in eight authorised entities, into CMIG, which was registered in London. We wrote to our customers last year to inform them of the change.
“As part of this process CMIG was renamed as Scottish Widows Limited. The ultimate parent body, Scottish Widows Group Limited, continues to be registered in Edinburgh, as does Lloyds Banking Group.
“This has no impact on the operations of the business, those who work for Scottish Widows, or our customers. Our headquarters and the majority of our staff are in Edinburgh, as they have been since we were founded over 200 years ago.
“The purpose was to simplify the structure of the insurance business which will make us more efficient, ease regulatory reporting requirements and help the group make better use of our resources.”
Scottish Widows employs about 3,000 people in Edinburgh, where its head office was last year sold to an overseas investor for more than £105 million.
More details about the move are expected to be announced alongside Lloyds’ results on Thursday, when the taxpayer-backed bank is set to unveil a fresh £2 billion provision for mis-selling payment protection insurance (PPI).
Group chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio is expected to tell investors that the PPI hit, as well as Chancellor George Osborne’s postponement of a retail share offering in the bank because of stock market volatility, means there are unlikely to be special shareholder dividends or buybacks in the near future.