Scottish independence: RBS plays down London move

RBS chief executive Ross McEwan.  Picture:  Ian Rutherford
RBS chief executive Ross McEwan. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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ROYAL Bank of Scotland’s chief executive Ross McEwan said the bank would adapt its business in the event of Scotland becoming independent.

The bank boss also played down comments from UK Business Minister Vince Cable suggesting it was inevitable that it would relocate its headquarters from Edinburgh to London in the event of a yes vote.

“It’s really important that the Scottish people get the opportunity to vote, and then if I need to adapt my business to serve England, Scotland, Wales and both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, then I will,” McEwan said.

“Mr Cable and I have not talked about moving our head office,” he added.

McEwan’s comments followed reports that Britain will warn Scots that they cannot have a currency union with the rest of the United Kingdom if they vote for independence in a September referendum.

RBS along with Bank of Scotland-owner Lloyds Banking Group and other major financial institutions based in Edinburgh have begun contingency planning in the event of a vote for independence.

Industry sources say a key part of contingency planning is what they will do in the event of a currency union not being agreed. One source said an option for financial services firms based in Edinburgh would be to relocate their registered offices to London but retain operations in the Scottish capital.

RBS, Lloyds and Standard Life declined to comment.

McEwan also said RBS would pay bonuses to help retain top bankers, despite analysts expecting the bank to report a loss of between 7 billion pounds ($11.5 billion) and 8 billion for 2013 later this month, its sixth successive annual loss.