Standard Life Exit Plan 'Nonsense'

Alex Salmond has dismissed fears that Standard Life is preparing to leave an independent Scotland as "nonsense'' and "scaremongering''.

The pensions and insurance giant issued a statement today advising investors that it is "planning for new regulated companies in England to which we could transfer parts of our business if there was a need to do so''.

When asked if Standard Life is preparing to pull out of Scotland, Mr Salmond said: "I think that is nonsense, and I'll tell you why.

"On the way here I came past St Andrew Square, and in the corner you will find a substantial new office block being developed. Now I think it's a #90 million development which is being financed by Standard Life Investments.

"That doesn't look like the actions of a company that has any intentions whatsoever of pulling out of Scotland.

"I think we are at a stage in Scotland where people are going to look at scaremongering, shake their heads and say: have these people got nothing else to say but this negative doom-mongering when the people of Scotland are looking forward to a more prosperous and fairer society and the ability to have a powerhouse parliament to create jobs?

"There's a huge difference between registration of business and where economic activity takes place.

"I'm saying when you look into the investments that are going into bricks and mortar, I think we look at people's actions rather than that.

"Standard Life have issued this around three or four months ago in terms of what contingency planning they are doing.

"Other major figures in the Scottish financial sector are taking exactly the opposite view. They are saying that there are substantial opportunities with independence.''

Mr Salmond was speaking at a pro-independence rally in Edinburgh, attended by around 200 Yes supporters.

Standard Life said it will take "whatever action is required to protect our customers' interests and maintain our competitiveness in the markets in which we operate''.

Standard Life chief executive David Nish said: "As we stated in February, and repeated at our half-year results in August, there continues to be uncertainty around a range of issues material to Scotland's future in the event of Scotland separating from the United Kingdom.

"These include the currency that an independent Scotland would use; whether agreement and ratification of an independent Scotland's membership to the European Union would be achieved by the assumed target date (currently 24 March 2016); the shape and role of the monetary system going forward; the arrangements for financial services regulation and consumer protection in an independent Scotland; the approach to individual taxation, especially around savings and pensions.

"In view of the uncertainty around Scotland's constitutional future, we have put in place precautionary measures which would help enable us to provide customers with continuity.

"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.

"This transfer of our business could potentially include pensions, investments and other long-term savings held by UK customers to ensure all transactions with customers outside of Scotland continue to be in Sterling (money paid in and money paid out); all customers outside of Scotland continue to be part of the UK tax regime; all customers outside of Scotland continue to be covered by existing consumer protection and regulatory arrangements e.g. the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and Financial Conduct Authority.

"We will continue to serve our customers in Scotland and will consider what additional measures we may need to take on their behalf as a consequence of constitutional change once further clarity and certainty is received.''

It added: "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.''

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