HSBC, BHP Billiton, Weir Group: The businesses against Scottish independence

With less than four weeks to go before the vote, more companies look like they favour the Union.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 10 Sep 2014

As the days tick down to the Scottish independence referendum on September 18th, businesses are increasingly making their feelings on the matter known. And - hard luck for Alex Salmond and the Scottish nationalists - it looks like more are coming down on the side of the Union.

More than 130 business leaders signed a letter organised by Keith Cochrane, chief executive of engineering firm Weir Group, and published in the Scotsman newspaper today, stating, ‘The business case for independence has not been made.’

The signatories, who are responsible for around 50,000 Scottish jobs, included HSBC chairman Douglas Flint, who warned last week about the currency risks of independence, BHP Billiton chief executive Andrew Mackenzie, Baxters Food Group executive chairman Audrey Baxter and Ian Curle, the head of The Famous Grouse whisky-maker Edrington.

‘Uncertainty surrounds a number of vital issues including currency, regulation, tax, pensions, EU membership and support for our exports around the world; and uncertainty is bad for business,’ the letter said.

‘The United Kingdom gives business the strong platform we must have to invest in industry. By all continuing to work together, we can keep Scotland flourishing.’

The letter follows pensions giant Standard Life saying it was making preparations to move south in the event of a Yes vote and a poll of Forum of Private Business members that found two-thirds of small businesses supported staying in the UK. Plenty of businesses are keen on independence (although even more are staying out of the fray and on the fence). IAG boss Willie Walsh and Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary both like the idea of cuts in passenger duty, while Business for Scotland says it has 2,500 members, most of which look to be small companies.

But the list of large businesses expressing concern over independence or coming out against it altogether is growing ever longer. With the No vote still leading the polls, despite Salmond’s victory over Alistair Darling in this week’s TV debate, time is running out for the nationalists to make their case.

Here's the full letter and list of signatories


The outcome of the referendum on 18 September will affect our generation and the generations to come.

Much is at stake.

Our economic ties inside the United Kingdom are very close and support almost one million Scottish jobs. The rest of the UK is Scotland's biggest market by far.

As job creators, we have looked carefully at the arguments made by both sides of the debate.

Our conclusion is that the business case for independence has not been made.
Uncertainty surrounds a number of vital issues including currency, regulation, tax, pensions, EU membership and support for our exports around the world; and uncertainty is bad for business.

Today Scotland’s economy is growing. We are attracting record investment and the employment rate is high.

We should be proud that Scotland is a great place to build businesses and create jobs – success that has been achieved as an integral part of the United Kingdom.

The United Kingdom gives business the strong platform we must have to invest in jobs and industry. By all continuing to work together, we can keep Scotland flourishing.

Signed in a personal capacity by the following:

Pauline Alexander, founder, Star Equestrian and Farm Camp Limited
John Allan, chairman, WorldPay
Martin Allan, director, Bon Accord Glass Ltd.
William M. Allan, executive chairman, ASCO Group Limited
Lord Allen CBE, chairman of ISS, Global Group and 2 Sisters Food Group
Robert Anderson, chief executive, Tomatin Distillery Ltd.
Hugh Andrew, managing director, Birlinn Limited
Ian P. Bankier, executive chairman, Glenkeir Whiskies Limited
Audrey Baxter, executive chairman, Baxters Food Group
Graeme Belch, managing director, JBD Tritec Limited
Archie Bethel CBE, divisional chief executive, Babcock International Group Plc
Niall Booker, chief executive officer, The Co-operative Bank
Ronnie Bowie, senior partner, Hymans Robertson LLP
Gilpin Bradley, managing director, Wester Ross Fisheries Ltd.
Jimmy Buchan, skipper and owner, Amity Fish Company Ltd.
Esther Cameron, director, Hair Kapers Ltd.
John Campbell, managing director, James Walker (Leith) Ltd.
Austin Carey, managing director, Blue Machinery (Scotland) Ltd.
Alexander Catto, director, Scotlog Sales Ltd.
Victor Chavez, chief executive, Thales UK
Angus Cockburn, interim chief executive, Aggreko plc
Keith Cochrane, chief executive, The Weir Group PLC
Ian Curle, chief executive, Edrington
Nicholas G. Cunningham, chairman, Malcolm, Ogilvie & Co. Ltd.
A. Stuart Dalziel, managing director, Dalziel Ltd.
John Denholm, chairman, J&J Denholm Ltd.
Robert J. S. Doig, director, Caithness Potatoes Ltd.
Daniel Dunko, managing director, Thomas Hancock & Co.
Gerard Eadie, chairman, CR Smith
Keith Elgin, proprietor, Keith Elgin Motor Engineers
James England, managing director, BlueSky Experiences
James Espey, owner and managing director, The Last Drop Distillers Ltd.
Keith Falconer, chairman, Adelphi Distillery
Douglas Ferrans, former chief executive, Scottish Amicable Investment Management Ltd.
Frank Ferris, chief executive, TFC Cable Assemblies Ltd.
Douglas Flint, group chairman, HSBC Holdings plc
Vincent Fusaro, director and co-owner, Luvians
John Gillespie, proprietor, John Gillespie Hairdressing
Peter Gordon, director, William Grant & Sons Distillers Ltd.
Sir John Grant, executive vice-president, policy and corporate affairs, BG Group plc
Hamish Grossart, chairman, Artemis Investment Management
Eric Hagman CBE, chairman, Matthew Algie Ltd.
Kevin Hague, managing director, M8 Group Ltd.
Ronald S. Hamilton, executive chairman and founder, Daysoft Limited
Dr. Tessa Hartmann, managing director, Hartmann Media Ltd.
Amanda Harvie, managing director, The Harvie Consultancy Ltd. and former CEO, Scottish Financial Enterprise
Lord William Haughey, chairman, City Refrigeration Holdings (UK) Ltd.
Gavin Hewitt, former chief executive, The Scotch Whisky Association
Alan Hill, financial director, Browns Food Group
Dr. Peter T. Hughes, former chairman, Glencast Ltd.
Marcus Kneen, chief executive, IndigoVision
Alastair Lamond, managing director, Lamond and Murray Ltd.
Dr. Brian Lang, former principal, University of St Andrews
John Langlands, chief executive, British Polythene Industries PLC
Brian H. Lemond, managing director, Oakenash Group Limited
Ken Lemond, gallery owner
James F. Lithgow, chairman, Lithgows Ltd.
Alasdair Locke, entrepreneur
Andrew Mackenzie, chief executive, BHP Billiton Plc
Ian Angus MacKenzie, chief executive, Harris Tweed Hebrides
Martin MacLeod, managing director, Hebridean Seaweed Company
Alastair MacMillan, managing director, White House Products Ltd.
Shonaig Macpherson, non-executive director
Angus MacSween, chief executive, Iomart Group plc
Bill McFarlan, broadcaster and managing director, The Broadcasting Business
Alan McFarlane, senior partner, Dundas Partners LLP
Jim McFarlane, managing director, Endura Ltd.
Robert McFarlane, group chairman and chief operating officer, NPL Group
Brian McGhee, chairman, G1 Group
Dougie McGilvray, chief executive, Weldex (International) Offshore Ltd.
John McGuire, chairman and chief executive, Phoenix Car Company
Cameron McLatchie, chairman, British Polythene Industries PLC
Robert McNaughton, managing director, Hillhouse Quarry Group Limited
Neil McNicol, chairman, McCurrach Investments
Malcolm McPherson, senior partner, HBJ Gateley
Neil Manchester, managing director, Landcatch Natural Selection Ltd.
Ian Marchant, energy businessman
John Michie, managing director, Charles Michies Pharmacy
Bruce Mickel, chairman, Mactaggart & Mickel Group
Dr. James S. Milne, chairman and managing director, Balmoral Group Holdings Ltd.
Nosheena Mobarik, chief executive, M Computer Technologies
Jamie Moffat, former managing director, A.T. Mays
George Morris, chairman, Morris and Spottiswood Ltd.
Derek Morrison, partner, Wm. Morrison Coachworks
James Mortimer, entrepreneur
Ian Murgitroyd, chairman, Murgitroyd and Company Limited
Iain Napier, chairman, John Menzies plc
Robin Nicolson, managing director, Nicolson Maps Ltd.
Bill Nixon, managing partner, Maven Capital Partners UK LLP
Peter Page, chief executive, Devro plc
Chris R. Parker, managing director, London and Scottish International Ltd.
Jack Perry, chairman, ICG-Longbow Senior Debt Limited
Coralie Pickering, managing director, CCL Property Ltd.
Richard G. S. Prenter, chairman, MacTaggart, Scott & Co. Ltd.
Will Ramsay, chief executive, Affordable Art Fair
Jeremy Richardson, chief executive, Cornelian Asset Managers
Charles Buchan Ritchie, chairman, Score Group plc
David Ross, a founding partner of Aberforth Partners
Mike Ross, non-executive director, former chief executive of Scottish Widows
Leonard Russell, managing director, Ian Macleod Distillers Ltd.
Alastair Salvesen, chairman, Dawnfresh Seafoods Ltd.
David Sands, managing director, Alligin Properties Ltd.
Alan Savage, chairman, Orion Group
Lord Damian Scott, director, Buccleuch
Barry E. Sealey, business angel
Peter Shakeshaft, business adviser
Steven Shear, commercial property developer/landlord
David Sibbald, software entrepreneur
Archie Smith, managing director, FiFe Fabrications Limited
Drew McKenzie Smith, managing director, The Lindores Distillery Company Ltd.
Eric N. Smith D.A.
Graham Stevenson, managing director, Inver House Distillers Ltd.
Bill Stewart, managing director, McDonald Engineers
Sir Brian Stewart, former chairman of Standard Life plc, Scottish and Newcastle plc and The Miller Group
Peter Taylor, chairman, The Town House Collection
Mark Tennant, chairman, F&C Private Equity Trust plc
Richard Tester, managing director, Glycologic Limited
John G. Thom, chairman, Miller Hendry solicitors
Simon Thomson, chief executive, Cairn Energy PLC
Alan Thornton, managing director, Caledonian Industries Ltd.
Fraser Thornton, managing director, Burn Stewart Distillers Ltd.
Judith Thorpe and Karen Molloy, directors, Thorpe Molloy Recruitment Ltd.
Marcus Tiefenbrun, chairman, Castle Precision Engineering Ltd.
A. B. Tunnock CBE
David Warnock, non-executive director
Neville Washington, proprietor, Washington Consulting
Colin I. Welsh, chief executive officer, Simmons & Company International Limited
Lesley Wiggins, managing director, Milne Management Limited
Donald Wilson, investor
Timothy Wright, chief executive, Edinburgh University Press

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