Scottish independence: What have businesses been saying?

March is the end of the financial year in the UK, when businesses announce their annual results and outline plans for the future.

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Scotland Decides

Go to the BBC's Scotland Decides page for analysis, background and explainers.

With the Scottish independence referendum just months away, many big businesses have used their announcements to explain what independence would mean for them.

The economy is widely regarded as the key campaign battleground in the build up to the referendum which takes place on 18 September. Voters in Scotland will be asked the "Yes/No" question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

So, what have some businesses said so far?

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Property investors
Woman looking in estate agent's window Property investors are split over whether independence would be good for Scotland

Caledonian Trust Plc, the Edinburgh-based property investment holding and development company, said in its interim results that the economic prospects for an independent Scotland "are not favourable".

Chairman Ian Douglas Lowe said the costs of independence would be "very high" for businesses, particularly Scotland's financial sector.

However, Dan Macdonald, chief executive of Edinburgh-based property investor Macdonald Estates, disagreed with this assessment, saying independence would create growth.

He added: "Full fiscal autonomy can equip the Scottish Parliament with the financial tools it needs to tailor policy and priorities to Scotland's particular needs, to secure investment and stimulate growth in the economy, and to create jobs."

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SSE
Electricity pylon SSE is the UK's second largest energy supplier

A single UK energy market would be "likely" if Scotland becomes independent, according to SSE.

The company, which is the UK's second largest energy supplier, issued a statement which said "a single energy market in Great Britain would be the most likely outcome in the event of a 'Yes' vote".

The statement also recognised that post-independence negotiations between the Scottish and UK governments could be "complex" and might result in changes to the existing market.

It added: "SSE has already put in place arrangements to ensure that it takes account of this uncertainty in its decision-making and is undertaking work to ensure that it has a clear view of the issues that would arise should there be a 'Yes' vote, and is in a good position to engage constructively with the Scottish and UK governments in the event of Scotland ceasing to be part of the UK."

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Jupiter Fund Management
Maarten Slendebroak Maarten Slendebroak said he saw "significant long term business opportunity" in Scotland

Chief Executive Maarten Slendebroek said the investment firm's Scottish business would prosper regardless of the outcome of September's vote.

Mr Slendebroek said: "While the uncertainty regarding Scotland's future is a concern for business in the short term, we see a significant long term business opportunity for Jupiter in Scotland.

"It has a vibrant financial services sector and is home to many of the wealth management clients we are targeting. That will not change, regardless of the outcome of a referendum."

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BlackRock
BlackRock HQ Blackrock sent its assessment on Scottish independence to its clients

The world's biggest investment fund manager has said Scottish independence would bring "major uncertainties, costs and risks".

Blackrock's assessment was that those risks would be "mostly for Scotland, but also for the remaining UK".

The New York based company, which manages trillions in financial assets, believed a currency union between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK "looks infeasible" and would "bring risks to both countries".

It added that "best of the few choices" Scotland had would be to launch its own currency.

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Thomas Cook
Thomas Cook aeroplane Thomas Cook's chief executive said the Scottish government's pledge to reduce air passenger duty was a "relatively small part" of the independence debate

Travel giant Thomas Cook told online news service the Huffington Post that two referendums - the Scottish independence vote and the potential UK referendum on EU membership - were creating "massive uncertainty" for business.

Chief executive Harriet Green said both votes were unsettling for companies looking to create jobs and attract investment.

Ms Green also dismissed British Airways boss Willie Walsh's suggestion that independence could be a "positive development", due to the Scottish government's pledge to cut and eventually scrap air passenger duty.

She said air passenger duty was a "relatively small part of that debate".

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Next
Next store The Next chief executive was asked about independence after the company announced increased profits

The chief executive of clothes and homeware retailer Next said Scottish independence would have no effect on how the company was managed.

According to The Herald, Lord Wolfson said: "I don't think it would make any difference. We manage our business in Eire how we manage in the UK.

"We do not see Scottish independence as a business issue."

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BAE
Shipyard BAE employs about 3,000 workers on the Clyde

BAE Systems said continued union between Scotland and the rest of the UK offers "greater certainty and stability" for its business.

The company employs about 3000 workers on the Clyde and is helping to construct two new Royal Navy aircraft carriers.

Chief executive Ian King said: "BAE Systems has significant interests and employees in Scotland, and it is clear that continued union offers greater certainty and stability for our business.

"In the event that Scotland voted to become independent, we would need to discuss the way forward with the Ministry of Defence and UK government, and work with them to deliver the best solution in those circumstances."

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Ineos
Grangemouth oil refinery The Grangemouth oil refinery, which is owned by Ineos, employs more than 1,300 people

Jim Ratcliffe, whose company Ineos operates the Grangemouth oil refinery near Falkirk, said the vote will not make a difference to the future of the plant.

He told the BBC: "[Grangemouth] will survive in both scenarios. I don't think the Scottish vote will make any difference to Grangemouth one way or the other."

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British Chambers of Commerce
BCC logo The BCC represents about 92,000 businesses across the UK

The British Chambers of Commerce said its members are not saying "Yes" or "No" to Scottish independence, but they're looking for clarity on four issues.

Head of policy, Adam Marshall, told the BBC: "[Members] want to know what's going to happen on currency, they want to know what's going to happen on tax, they want to know what's going to happen on pensions, and they want to know what's going to happen on Europe.

"What they aren't saying to us is yes or no, what they're saying to us is we want to know what's going to happen on these particular issues because otherwise we are being asked to make a prediction based upon something we as a business would never do."

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Alliance Trust
Katherine Garrett-Cox Chief executive, Katherine Garrett-Cox, has announced contingency plans for independence

Investment firm Alliance Trust has said it is setting up companies registered in England ahead of the referendum.

The Dundee-based company said it had to remain focused on services in the UK and beyond.

Chief executive Katherine Garrett-Cox said: "The referendum in September is creating uncertainty for our customers and our business, which we have a responsibility to address.

"Regardless of the outcome it is critical that we are able to provide continuity of service and protection for their investments and savings.

"To give them full confidence, we have started work to establish additional companies registered in England, in order to provide operational flexibility and to complement our existing business in Scotland."

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Aviva
Aviva sign Chief executive Mark Wilson wants Aviva to stay neutral in the debate

The boss of insurance giant Aviva, Marks Wilson, has stressed that he is neutral in the independence debate, saying that it is a decision for the Scottish people.

He said: "Obviously we are looking with interest at what's going on, but I really think that's an issue for the Scottish people.

"We operate all around the world and we operate in many jurisdictions and in many places so I really think that's not an issue for us to focus on."

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Aggreko
Aggreko cargo Aggreko is the world's largest temporary power company

The temporary power firm, Aggreko, said that independence would make doing business more complex, but that it would find a way to deal with it.

The Glasgow based enterprise said: "If Scotland were to leave the United Kingdom and become an independent country, it would likely burden our UK business with added operating complexity and cost.

"There is also a risk that the outcome of the issues of currency and membership of the EU will not be helpful to our business.

"At the very least, if Scotland votes for independence we will face some years of uncertainty and hiatus."

Aggreko stressed, however, that it would "find ways to manage around this challenge if it arises".

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Standard Life
David Nish David Nish, chief executive of Standard Life, said plans have been made for independence

Standard Life has had its headquarters in Scotland for 189 years. However, its annual report stated that it would consider moving parts of it business elsewhere in the event of Scottish independence.

The report said Scotland had been a great base for the company, but added: "If anything were to threaten this, we will take whatever action we consider necessary - including transferring parts of our operations from Scotland - in order to ensure continuity and to protect the interests of our stakeholders."

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British Airways
Willie Walsh Willie Walsh, chief executive of BA's owners, was positive about independence

Willie Walsh, the chief executive of British Airways' owner company, IAG, was positive about independence due to what he believed would be more favourable tax rates.

He told the BBC: "If anything, [Scottish independence] might be marginally positive because I suspect the Scottish government will abolish air passenger duty, because they recognise the huge impact that that tax has on their economy.

"So, it's probably going to be a positive development - if it does happen - for British Airways."

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Lloyds
Lloyd sign Lloyds assessed the risk of independence in their annual report

Lloyds - which is Britain's biggest bank - said that uncertainty surrounds what would happen in the event of a "yes" vote in the referendum.

Its annual report stated: "The impact of a yes vote in favour of Scottish independence is uncertain.

"The outcome could have a material impact on compliance costs, the tax position and cost of funding for the group."

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Ryanair
Michael O Leary Michael O'Leary said independence might boost Scottish tourism

Michael O'Leary, chief executive of Ryanair, said he supported the position of the Scottish government in relation to the abolition of air passenger duty in an independent Scotland.

He explained: "There's no doubt that most airlines would support the position of the Scottish government in relation to the abolition of the APD (air passenger duty), which does untold damage to Scottish tourism."

"If the air travel tax were repealed by the UK government or an independent Scottish government, you'd see visitors to Scotland double over a five to 10 year period."

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BP
BP sign The head of BP urged Scotland to stay in the UK

Bob Dudley, BP boss, said that the prospect of Scottish independence created "a big question mark" which will create concern for all businesses.

He said: "We have a lot of people in Scotland, we've got a lot of investments in Scotland. There's much debate about what would happen with the currency and of course whether there would be connections with Europe or not.

"These are quite big uncertainties for us. At the moment we're continuing to invest at the (same) pace because these projects are under way.

"But it's a question mark. I think all businesses have a concern. My personal view is Great Britain is great and it ought to stay together."

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Shell
Ben van Beurden Ben van Beurden urged Scotland to stay in the UK, and the UK to stay in the EU

The chief executive of the oil company, Shell, wants Scotland to remain in the UK for the sake of "continuity and stability".

Ben van Beurden said: "We're used to operating in uncertain political and economic environments. But, given a choice, we want to know as accurately as possible what investment conditions will look like 10 or 20 years from now.

"As a global business with feet planted firmly on both sides of the Channel, we also believe that the UK's national interests are best served by a close relationship with Europe.

"It's for similar reasons that we'd like to see Scotland remain part of the United Kingdom.

"Shell has a long history of involvement in the North Sea - and therefore in Scotland - and we continue to invest more than a billion pounds there every year."

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RBS
An RBS branch RBS has been based in Scotland for nearly 300 years

RBS chairman Philip Hampton told shareholders at the bank's annual meeting on 25 June that the state-backed lender was considering its options should Scotland vote for independence in September.

He said the bank would continue to maintain a "neutral position" but warned that the issue had created "a great deal of uncertainty" and would have implications for the bank's credit rating, tax and regulation.

He added: "We are having to consider the possible business implications of a 'Yes' vote and our response.

"We maintain a continuous dialogue with the Bank of England, UKFI (UK Financial Investments) and the UK government and the Scottish government on these matters."

Several months ago, RBS chief executive Ross McEwan said the bank could adapt to independence if it had to.

He said: "It's really important that the Scottish people get the opportunity to vote, and then if I need to adapt my business to serve England, Scotland, Wales and both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, then I will."

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    09:22: Devo max

    Speaking on Morning Call about the Smith Commission, Lesley Riddoch said she wanted devo max from the process.

    Ms Riddoch added: "Devolution is not like a bit more milk, or a bit more cream. You don't just get a bit more, a bit less, and it is much the same. There is quite a step change of what gets handed back to Scotland.

    "The proposals currently on the table, particularly from the Tories and Lib Dems to devolve the income tax without oil revenues, that could be a recipe for disaster for Scotland."

     
  45.  
    09:15: Oil revenue John Beattie BBC Scotland

    Scottish oil revenue is down to £1.1bn for the first six months of the year.

     
  46.  
    09:13: Hen Harrier protection

    The RSPB has launched a cross-border five-year programme to protect the future of an endangered bird of prey, the hen harrier.

    Most of the UK breeding population of the birds are found in Orkney, the Hebrides and parts of the western mainland.

    Hen harrier

    Between 2004 and 2010, Scotland's hen harrier population declined by 20%.

    The birds were previously a common sight in the UK's uplands, but persecution by game preservers and skin and egg collectors meant that by 1900 they were almost extinct in the UK.

     
  47.  
    09:03: Obituary - Glenn Gibbons The Scotsman

    In a professional career spanning five decades, Glenn Gibbons forged a reputation as one of Scotland's most independently minded and insightful sports journalists.

    Primarily a football correspondent, he utilised his pugnacious and often acerbic style of writing to telling effect throughout the dramatically different eras of the sport in this country of which he was a colourful chronicler and sharp observer.

    Read the full obituary.

     
  48.  
    Text 80295 09:00: Political powers - Get Involved

    Jon, East Kilbride: The best thing for Scotland would be get rid of the Scottish Parliament and all the defeated SNP never-ever-has-been's and never-ever-will-be's.

    Martin, Bishopton: It has to be maximum devolution. (Devo Max) with 45% voting Yes and at least 10% voting No on the basis of the vow. Federalism, home rule, devo max were terms used by Brown, Alexander, Galloway to persuade people to vote No. Anything less would be an epic let down.

    George in Elgin: Smith Commission - Let's call a halt to any more wind farms trashing our finest landscapes!

     
  49.  
    08:55: Assisted suicide

    Proposals to legalise assisted suicide are "unnecessary, unethical and uncontrollable", according to campaigners opposed to the move.

    Care Not Killing (CNK) has launched an online petition calling on MSPs to reject a bill that would allow people to obtain help in ending their life.

    Nurse and patient holding hands

    The Assisted Suicide Bill is backed by Green MSP Patrick Harvie on behalf of former independent MSP Margo MacDonald.

    Ms MacDonald died in April following a long battle with Parkinson's disease.

     
  50.  
    08:45: Today's papers

    The Scottish Sun and The Daily Record devote their front pages to Celtic keeper Lukasz Zaluska's black eye.

    Meanwhile, the Scottish Daily Mail leads with a story on the poor meals being provided on a tiny budget to Scottish hospital patients.

    Front pages 22 October

    Fancy a full-blown account of what the papers are saying? Read our round-up here.

     
  51.  
    08:44: Travel update BBC Scotland Travel Latest

    In Dundee, the A972 Kingsway East is clear of that accident at Old Craigie Road.

    In Glasgow, it is very slow at Junction 2A - the Cambuslang Road junction of the Glasgow-bound M74 extension.

    For drivers in Dumbarton, delays of 20 minutes through the roadworks on A82 Stirling Road. At the Whitburn junction of the M8, it's looking stop/start eastbound.

    Ferries are looking much better than yesterday, but Stena Line has cancelled its 11:30 sailing from Cairnryan to Belfast.

     
  52.  
    08:40: Devolution talks Louise White Presenter, Morning Call

    What do YOU want for Scotland? #SmithCommission Talking to @LesleyRiddoch on @BBCRadioScot #morningcall 0850

     
  53.  
    08:30: Ebola warning

    A global health expert is warning that the Ebola virus is "very likely" to come to Scotland.

    Dr Devi Sridhar said isolated cases are possible, with Aberdeen one of the places most at risk because of its prominence in the oil and gas industry.

    ebola

    Aberdeen councillor Barney Crockett told Good Morning Scotland: "I think we have to be appropriately concerned, but I don't think we have to make it a pressing worry to us.

    "The health service has made preparations. Our industries are used to having a worldwide approach into looking at a very careful analysis of risk. The two together, people in Scotland should take great heart from that."

     
  54.  
    08:25: Coming up... Louise White Presenter, Morning Call

    As the Smith Commission meets to consider more powers for the Scottish Parliament, we're asking what do you want for Scotland?

    Also, with respect to the challenges and dilemmas of looking after someone with dementia: what comes first, care or dignity?

    Louise White

    The lines are open now. 0500 92 95 00 or text 80295.

    You can listen live from 08:50 here.

     
  55.  
    08:17: High Street sales blow

    Scotland's high streets have suffered their poorest sales figures for September since records began.

    Official statistics show total sales dropped by 2.9% compared with September 2013.

    Sale sign on the High Street

    Food sales were down 2.4%, while non-food sales decreased by 3.3% on the previous year.

    Analysts blamed uncertainty over the independence referendum and unseasonably warm weather for people staying away from the shops.

    David Martin, of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: "September was a challenging month for retailers with a combination of factors contributing to the weakest sales performance since January 1999, excluding Easter distortions."

     
  56.  
    08:10: 'Hail of bullets' VC hero honoured

    A soldier who braved a hail of bullets to rescue wounded comrades during a World War One battle in France is being honoured in his home city of Glasgow.

    Pte Henry May received the Victoria Cross (VC) - the highest award for gallantry - for actions at La Boutillerie on 22 October 1914.

    Private May

    A paving stone in his memory will be unveiled outside the People's Palace.

    Stones are being laid in the home town of every UK soldier awarded the VC as part of World War One centenary events.

    The paving stone in memory of Bridgeton soldier Pte May will be unveiled on Wednesday by the city's Depute Lord Provost Gerry Leonard.

     
  57.  
    08:06: Coming up... Gary Robertson BBC Radio Scotland

    Global health expert says Scottish cases of Ebola "very likely" with Aberdeen one of the places most at risk. #bbcgms 0815

    BBC Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme

    You can listen live to BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme here.

     
  58.  
    08:03: Travel update BBC Scotland Travel Latest

    Glasgow M8: One lane blocked RTC Westbound at J13 M80 (Provan). Lane three (Of three) blocked just before the entry slip. Police en route.

    In Dundee, the A972 Kingsway East partially blocked; accident at Old Craigie Road/Pitkerro Road/Pitkerro Drive/Kingsway East. Police are in attendance.

     
  59.  
    08:02: Bolster political powers

    The Smith Commission, set up to consider more powers for the Scottish Parliament, is to hold its first full meeting later.

    Chairman Lord Smith of Kelvin will meet representatives of Scotland's main political parties at the Green Investment Bank in Edinburgh.

    Scottish Parliament chamber at Holyrood

    The SNP, Labour, the Conservatives, the Lib Dems and the Scottish Green Party have all made devolution proposals.

    The five parties represented in the Scottish Parliament each have two representatives on the commission, which is expected to reach an agreement by 30 November.

    Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, who campaigned against independence, have all promised further powers for Scotland in areas including taxation, the economy and employment.

     
  60.  
    08:00: Welcome Thomas McGuigan BBC Scotland News

    Good morning and welcome to Wednesday's edition of Scotland Live, as we bring you a comprehensive round-up of news, sport, travel and weather from now until 18:00.

     

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