Scottish independence: Banks ‘must decide’ on HQs

Richard Branson: His Virgin Money could be affected, says expert. Picture: PA
Richard Branson: His Virgin Money could be affected, says expert. Picture: PA
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UK banks in Scotland will be forced to decide whether to keep their headquarters north of the Border if Scotland becomes independent, a legal banking expert has warned.

Rod MacLeod, a partner with Edinburgh law firm Tods Murray, said banks with headquarters in Scotland that have registered offices in England will no longer be able to be structured in that way under EU rules if Scotland elects to become an independent country.

Banks such as Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Money and Sainsbury’s Bank, which have headquarters in Edinburgh but have registered offices in the south, are likely to be affected.

Lloyds Banking Group, which has its HQ in London, keeps its registered office at the Mound in Edinburgh following its takeover of HBoS at the height of the banking crisis. Mr MacLeod said: “If Scotland becomes a new state, these banks will either have to move their head office, with implications for job losses, or undertake significant restructuring to reposition their registered office with their head office.”

Mr Macleod also warned that the EU might take a look the Royal Bank of Scotland due to the sheer size of its operation down south, despite having its historic headquarters in Edinburgh.

A Better Together spokesperson said: “There are important questions to answer about the consequences for Scotland’s financial services industry. The implications of separation for jobs, mortgages and savings are serious.”

A spokesman for Yes Scotland declined to comment.

Mr Macleod will present his views today at a symposium at Glasgow University.