Standard Life boss renews independence warning

Standard Life HQ in Edinburgh's city centre. Picture: Neil Hanna
Standard Life HQ in Edinburgh's city centre. Picture: Neil Hanna
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STANDARD Life chairman Sir Gerry Grimstone has renewed warnings that the firm would consider leaving Scotland in the event of a vote for independence.

The company, which was particularly vocal during the Scottish independence campaign about its contingency plans in the event of a Yes vote, announced that it had put in place ‘precautionary measures’ designed to tackle any issues arising from a vote for independence.

“Looking forward, if the question of independence arose again we would do exactly the same thing”

Sir Gerry Grimstone

Standard Life’s chief executive David Nish told customers during the campaign that the firm was prepared to move some parts of its business to England if Scotland voted Yes.

He said in the run-up to the historic vote: “Standard Life has a long history in Scotland – a heritage of which we are very proud and we hope that this continues but our responsibility is to protect the interests of our customers, our shareholders, our people and other stakeholders in our business.

“The plans we have put in place will help to ensure continuity and peace of mind for all our stakeholder groups. This includes planning for new regulated companies in England to which we could transfer parts of our business if there was a need to do so.”

Bosses admitted uncertainty over currency and EU membership following a Yes vote were the main concerns for the firm.

Following on from a report at the weekend that the Edinburgh-based firm was preparing a ‘coded warning’ on the dangers of Scotland’s tax regime diverging from the rest of the UK in the wake of the SNP’s success in the general election, the finance giant’s chairman Sir Gerry Grimstone confirmed that the company’s stance had not changed.

“Looking forward, if it [the question of independence] arose again we would do exactly the same thing,” he said.

“We would look at the facts and if we had to say something to ensure continuity to customers and shareholders we would do it without hesitation.”

Standard Life is based in Edinburgh, where it employs close to 6,000 people.

The firm has around 9,000 employees worldwide, and more than six million customers.

Sir Gerry welcomed the election of 56 SNP MPs to the UK Parliament, saying that Scottish business would benefit from a ‘strong reasonable voice’.

He added : “We are a proud Scottish company, proud of our heritage. It has served us extremely well to be based in Edinburgh.

“We are looking forward to having a strong reasonable voice in the UK.”