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Scottish independence: Alliance Trust warns of concerns ahead of Scottish referendum

Dundee-based firm says referendum is creating uncertainty for customers

Jamie Dunkley
Friday 07 March 2014 12:58 GMT

Alliance Trust has warn it could move parts of its business out of Scotland if the country votes for independence.

The FTSE 250 investment manager, which employs three quarters of its 300-strong workforce north of the border, said it had already started setting up companies registered in England ahead of September’s vote.

It named four main issues it was particularly concerned with: jurisdiction and taxation of individual savings and pension plans, financial services regulation and consumer protection, currency and membership of the European Union.

 “This is not about making a political statement,” chief executive Katherine Garrett-Cox said. “ The referendum is creating uncertainty for our customers and our business, which we have a responsibility to address.”

The news is a further blow to Alex Salmond’s plans with the Scottish First Minister already having to contend with statements by companies including Standard Life, Lloyds Banking Group and Shell who have also warned over their futures in the country - the second largest financial services centre in the UK, accounting for about 150,000 jobs.

 Others such as BA-owner International Airlines Group have come out in support with Willie Walsh, chief executive, claiming that the Scottish Government’s proposals to cut air passenger duty meant separation could be “marginally positive” for the industry.

However, Katja Hall, chief policy director at the CBI, said: “The UK Government and the main political parties have made it clear that keeping the pound after independence would not be an option. The Scottish Government must outline its Plan B for the currency so that businesses and consumers are fully aware of the implications. “ As an independent Scotland would also have separate regulations, business costs would almost certainly increase, which is why many Scottish businesses are starting to express their concerns publically.”

The news came as Alliance saw its net asset value rise 16.1 per cent to 516.5p in the 12 months ending December 31. It also revealed it would pay a total dividend of 10.83p, up 12.5 per cent year on year, including a special dividend of 1.282p.

Ms Garrett-Cox, who has seen off two shareholder revolts in her five years in charge, responded to news that activist investor Elliott Advisors has increased its stake to more than 10 per cent.

“The business is in a different place now,” she said. “After five years of hard work and significant change at Alliance Trust, this year we have started to reap the rewards of that change. We know that we cannot afford to stand still, as change, be it regulatory, political or business-related, is a critical part of the world in which we operate.”

Shares in the company have risen by more than 20 per cent since the end of 2012.

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