UK treasurers putting off planning for Scottish independence

GLASGOW Fri May 16, 2014 8:51am EDT

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GLASGOW May 16 (Reuters) - Financial decision makers at some of Britain's biggest companies are not making contingency plans for life in a independent Scotland until the outcome of a September referendum is known.

Delegates at the annual conference of the Association of Corporate Treasurers in Glasgow said it's too early to make plans for an independent Scotland.

"Our chief executive has said he would prefer (Scotland) to stay in the union as we have big business in North Sea ... but we haven't made any specific treasury planning for it until we see (the outcome of the referendum)" said Alan Dick, director of tax and treasury at oil services company Amec.

Scotland will go to the polls on Sept. 18 to decided whether to end its 307-year-old union with the rest of the United Kingdom. Two opinion polls this week showed little change in the position of the two sides. Those opposed to independence still lead, although support for secession has increased recently.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has said Scotland would officially become independent in March 2016 in the event of a 'yes' vote, giving companies 18 months to prepare.

Vinod Parmar, group treasurer at bookmaker Ladbrokes, said the company, which has some business in Scotland, is considering the impact of an independent Scotland but hasn't made any preparations.

"We will have a view of it. But we have time - there is the vote and then there is integration," Parmar said.

Treasurers determine a firm's financial strategy and financial policies, advising on what businesses to invest in and organising the funding for its plans. Their decisions can influence investment banking and financial market activity.

Their views echo that of part-nationalised lender Lloyds Banking Group. Chairman Norman Blackwell said at the bank's annual general meeting in Edinburgh on Thursday that it is not currently preparing to leave Scotland if there is a vote in favour of independence.

Some companies, however, have started planning in case of a vote for secession. Edinburgh-based insurer Standard Life said on Tuesday that it had begun preparations in case it needed to move some operations out of Scotland.

The treasurer at one multinational company, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it is drawing up plans for its pension policies and hedging strategy if Scots vote to leave the UK. He described the process as a "complete administrative nightmare." (Reporting by Clare Hutchison; Editing by Larry King)

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