Standard Life is still not happy about the Scottish referendum

The institutional investor warned its concerns haven't been addressed. More ammunition for Alistair Darling ahead of his debate with Alex Salmond tonight.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 21 Aug 2014

Back in February, Standard Life said it was making preparations to up sticks and move south if the Scots voted to leave the union. And, just six weeks before the independence referendum, it still isn’t satisfied with the SNP’s plans to go it alone.

What exactly is the institutional investor’s (Aberdeen Angus) beef? Like any sensible, stability-craving business, it’s not happy with the lack of ‘clarity’ around the currency, central bank, financial regulation and taxation that would exist in an independent Scotland, and whether and how quickly it could join the EU.

Of course, it’s not exactly surprising its concerns haven’t been ironed out yet. The pro-independence campaign has claimed Scotland would keep the pound and the Bank of England (despite the name). The No camp has refused to give it that certainty – its whole campaign has been based around the argument Scotland would suffer economically if it leaves the UK.

That will make for some pretty thorny post-referendum negotiations, in the increasingly unlikely event of a Yes vote (if you believe the bookies, whose job it is to make money out of this kind of thing). And businesses aren’t liable to place their bets on politicians hammering it out.

Standard Life’s latest intervention, then, is useful ammunition for ex-chancellor and No campaign leader Alistair Darling in his televised debate with SNP leader Alex Salmond tonight. Debates don’t usually change the course of elections unless one side falls flat on its face, despite what headline-hungry journalists like to have you believe.

But with the pensions giant’s pre-tax profits up 11.5% to £334m in the first half of this year, not to mention its 5,000 Scottish staff, Darling has plenty of tricks up his sleeve – as long as he doesn’t trip over.

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