UK rating fears if Scots banks defect to London
The warning that England and Wales could be negatively affected if banks carry out a threat to move south if Scots vote for independence is in contrast to most analysts who have focused on the implications for Scotland.
If lenders, including RBS and Lloyds, opt to leave an independent Scotland for England it would impact on the remaining, rump, UK’s credit rating, according to Gary Jenkins, a bond market analyst at LNG Capital.
Both banks have said they will shift their company bases to England if Scots vote for independence next week.
Moving south of a new international border between Scotland and England will allow formerly Scottish banks to continue to have support from the Bank of England as lender of last resort in the event of a liquidity crisis.
The loss of bank headquarters could hurt Scotland from an employment point of view. However, it will also mean an even greater concentration of financial services in the rump of the UK, with potentially damaging implications for its country credit rating, according to Gary Jenkins.
“The rating agencies might come calling,” he said in a note to investors.
In a move that had been widely anticipated RBS said it “would be necessary to re-domicile the bank’s holding company.”
Though based in Edinburgh, RBS is a major global bank and had to be bailed out by UK taxpayers following he global financial crisis. London Lloyds, which is 25pc-owned by the British government and controls Scotland based Bank of Scotland and TSB, said its contingency plans included setting up “legal entities in England”.
Scotland is due to vote in a referendum on whether or not to break with the rest of the UK a week from today.
Opinion polls suggesting the outcome is too close to call have sent jitters through the markets in the past two weeks, as investors and analysts struggle to understand the implications if a majority votes Yes to independence vote.
One reason for that is that there have been no negotiations to fate over crucial issues including how the UK’s massive national debt could be divided, whether Scotland could continue to use the pound sterling and how assets including North Sea Oil might be divided between new countries.
Without clarity over such key issues many investors are opting for a “sell now ask questions later” policy in relation to shares in Scottish business and the pound sterling, which has weakened against the dollar.
Pro independent leader Alex Salmond yesterday accused the UK government of orchestrating a campaign among corporate leaders to talk negatively about independence.
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