Financial News

  • 2 June 2014, 17:38

Scots Independence: BAE Systems Chief's Fears

The boss of Britain's biggest defence company has become the latest business leader to warn against Scottish independence.

BAE Systems chief executive Ian King said that a "yes" vote would damage the "certainty and stability" necessary for investment.

Mr King's comments were made on a company blog, as the official campaign over independence was launched.

The defence giant currently employs 3,600 people in Scotland.

He said the company was pinning its hopes on an official decision for naval procurement, as it overhauls shipbuilding operations in Glasgow.

Mr King said the company was "investing in facilities for the future" in Scotland "based on an expectation that the Government will make their major production decision for the next generation Type 26 frigate by the end of this year".

He said: "If Scotland became independent, we would no longer have that certainty and stability.

"We would then have to talk to our major UK customer, the Ministry of Defence, and jointly work out a plan for the future."

Supporters of the "yes" vote in the forthcoming referendum insist Scotland will be better off as an independent state within the EU.

First Minister Alex Salmond said independence will make Scottish homes 2,000 richer, while the Treasury says Scots will be 1,400 richer if they stay in the union.

But Mr King also voiced concerns about staff pensions post-independence.

He said: "If Scotland became independent and subsequently joined the European Union, our pension schemes, along with many other UK company schemes, may be caught up in EU regulations relating to cross-border pensions.

"The reality today is we can't say how our pension schemes would be affected.

"There would be a number of possible outcomes and we would use our consultation processes to discuss the options."

His comments come amid a growing business chorus questioning Scottish independence.

On Friday Kingfisher chief executive Sir Ian Cheshire, the boss of B&Q's parent firm, said there were too many uncertainties around tax, currency and Scottish EU membership.

Last month, the British Chambers of Commerce, which itself remains impartial in the debate, surveyed close to 2,500 of its members, and whilst 11% said Scotland should vote yes, some 85% preferred the union to remain.

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