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Firm acts over vote uncertainty

Investment and savings business Alliance Trust has announced it is to set up additional companies in England as a result of uncertainty surrounding the independence referendum.

The 125-year-old Dundee-based business said it was taking the precaution in order to protect its customers regardless of the outcome in September.

The trust currently has offices in Dundee, Edinburgh and London.

In a statement outlining the company's annual results, chief executive Katherine Garrett-Cox said: "2014 is an important year for Scotland.

"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."

The company statement highlighted areas of uncertainty for the business, including the jurisdiction and taxation of individual savings and pension plans, financial services regulation and consumer protection.

It also raised concerns surrounding currency and membership of the European Union.

Setting up additional companies registered in England would "remove any uncertainty", the company said

The move would also serve to "provide operational flexibility and to complement our existing business in Scotland", it added.

Alliance Trust, which was incorporated in 1888 from several Dundonian companies, is one of the largest investment trusts in the UK with gross assets of more than £3.2 billion and around 250 employees.

It is the latest in a line of companies to raise concerns about uncertainty created by the referendum.

Generator and heating supplier Aggreko warned yesterday that Scottish independence would lead to ''years of uncertainty and hiatus'' for the business.

Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays, Standard Life, Royal Bank of Scotland, the Macfarlane Group and Breedon Aggregates have all listed independence in their risk management sections of their annual reports.

But other high-profile business figures have voiced support for independence, including Willie Walsh, the boss of British Airways' parent company, who said last month that a Yes vote in September could be a ''positive development''.

A Better Together spokesman said: " What these companies employing thousands of people have in common is that they view walking away from the UK as a huge risk.

"Alex Salmond's failure to set out credible answers on what would replace the pound and our membership of the EU means we are being asked to take a leap into the unknown.

"This is a risk we don't have to take. As part of the UK, we have the best of both worlds, with a strong Scottish Parliament and the back-up of being part of the larger UK economy."


From Belfast Telegraph