Scottish National Investment Bank will launch by 2019

A proposed new £2 billion Scottish National Investment Bank is likely to pay big money to attract the 'top talent' from the banking industry, Nicola Sturgeon has hinted.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: John Devlin
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: John Devlin

But the First Minister warned against a bonus culture emerging at the publicly owned institution, likely to be up and running next year.

The bank is seen as an essential tool to revive Scotland’s flatlining economy which has been lagging behind the rest of the UK in recent years, while Brexit poses a fresh threat. It will have start up funding of £500 million to provide much-needed investment for Scots firms looking to expand, as well as helping start-ups. This will increase to £2 billion over the next decade.

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Tesco bank chief Benny Higgins published a proposed implementation plan yesterday, which estimates annual running costs of £20m to £30m. This would allow for 100-150 staff across “a full range of financing activities”.

This is likely to mean six-figure salaries for its bosses, with the plan stating the bank must offer “employment and remuneration terms which are sufficiently competitive to attract suitably skilled and experienced people”.

Ms Sturgeon yesterday said salary ranges would be “public and transparent”.

But she added: “If this bank is to be successful, we will want to attract the top talent to run it and we will need to be able to attract that talent. And equally, this is the other part of that balance, we live in a climate, in a culture where there can be a public concern about salaries that are over-inflated or, in shorthand, a bonus culture.

“We don’t want to obviously have those kind of concerns in a publicly owned organisation that is there for the public good.”

National investment banks are widespread around the world, with Germany’s KfW pumping billions into indigenous firms every year.

Mr Higgins said Scotland’s businesses need all the help they can get as the economy continues to struggle.

“The outlook for economic growth is languid at best,” he admitted yesterday.

“Most forecasts would put economic growth hovering below or just above one per cent GDP growth for the next four of five years.

“Business investment in Scotland has also been on a trajectory of reduction for a very long time and shows no sign of abating.”

He added: “There is a strong consensus that there is an immediate and pressing need for the creation of the bank.”