NatWest Group HQ to move to London in event of Scottish independence
Alison Rose, the CEO of NatWest Group, has confirmed that the bank would move its registered headquarters to London if Scotland became independent.
Ms Rose told The Herald yesterday that the Royal Bank of Scotland owner has “always been very clear” that its balance sheet would be “ too big” for an independent Scotland.
Her comments came in response to a question from The Herald regarding the bank’s strategy should the upcoming Scottish election return a majority victory for the SNP and lead to a second referendum on Scottish independence.
Ms Rose said: “As you know, we are neutral on the issue of Scottish independence – it is something for the Scottish people to decide.
“We have been very clear, and it is recognised by senior nationalists, that in the event that there was independence in Scotland, our balance sheet would be too big for an independent Scottish economy, and we would move our registered headquarters… to London.”
Yesterday, the bank posted its results for the first quarter of 2021, revealing an 82% increase in operating profits before tax. The bank’s profits rose to £946 million from £519m in the first quarter of 2020.
NatWest also released £102m of cash allocated for potential bad loans that may not be repaid as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Last year, the bank put aside £802m for loan losses and took a huge hit of £3.2m for these provisions over 2020 as a whole.
Ms Rose insisted that moving the bank’s headquarters would not affect its commitment to Scotland, where it is one of the country’s biggest private sector employers and supporters of businesses and households.
She said: “It is really just the size of the balance sheet at that point, which we have been very clear in public about and with senior nationalists. The issue of Scottish independence is one for the Scottish people.”