Iomart chief says independence a ‘very silly idea’

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One of Scotland’s richest men has described the campaign for Scottish independence as a “very silly idea” and said he was prepared to move his fast-growing technology company to England in the event of a Yes vote.

Angus MacSween, the co-founder and chief executive of web hosting and cloud computing group Iomart, also said he was concerned that English customers may be discouraged from doing business with firms in an independent Scotland.

The firm joins a growing list of Scottish companies – including Aggreko, Alliance Trust, Standard Life, Royal Bank of Scotland and Weir Group – that have expressed fears in recent months over the outcome of September’s referendum.

Speaking to The Scotsman after Glasgow-based Iomart unveiled a 37 per cent jump in annual profits to £14.6 million, MacSween said: “We’ve hardly got any customers in Scotland, because bugger all happens in Scotland quite frankly.”

About 95 per cent of the firm’s customers are outside Scotland, and the majority of its data centres are located south of the Border, MacSween said.

The entrepreneur set up Iomart in 1998 with brother-in-law Bill Dobbie, who himself co-founded Edinburgh-based dating website operator Cupid.

In October, MacSween cashed in £10m worth of shares in Iomart and now owns just under 16 per cent of the company, with his stake valued at about £42m.

The firm has grown rapidly through a series of acquisitions, the largest of which was the £23m purchase in September of Leeds-based disaster recovery and cloud computing specialist Backup Technology.

MacSween, who received a total pay package of more than £514,000 last year, said: “A lot of the subsidiaries we’ve bought are registered in England. One of the concerns is why would English companies buy from a Scottish company?

“It’s fairly straightforward to move your registered office from Edinburgh to London. If that was the right thing for the business then that’s what we would do.”