September 10, 2014 / 11:52 AM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Standard Life affirms Scotland vote plans, no impact on dividend, listing

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By Carolyn Cohn

LONDON, Sept 10 (Reuters) - Standard Life on Wednesday reiterated it could transfer business to England if necessary after next week’s Scottish independence vote, and said the referendum result would have no impact on dividend payments or its London listing.

The plans, first announced in February, could mean the transfer of pensions, investments, and other savings held by UK customers of the Scottish-headquartered insurer to new companies in England.

The company’s share price has fallen following recent polls suggesting the independence vote may be too close to call, after months in which opponents of Scotland breaking from the UK were firmly in the lead.

Investors are concerned about the absence of concrete plans for an independent Scotland’s currency, and about different tax and regulation requirements.

“In view of the uncertainty around Scotland’s constitutional future, we have put in place precautionary measures which would help enable us to provide customers with continuity,” Standard Life said in a statement.

This would enable transactions with all UK customers outside Scotland to be in sterling, to be part of the UK tax regime and to be covered by UK consumer protection and regulatory requirements, Standard Life said.

The company said, regardless of the outcome of the vote, it would continue to be listed on the London Stock Exchange and there would be no impact on its dividend policy.

Standard Life’s shares have fallen nearly 2 percent this week, after a weekend poll showed those in favour of independence gaining ground on “No” voters.

But that followed a rally in the stock to 15-month highs last week, after Canada’s Manulife Financial Corp agreed a near-$4 billion deal for the company’s Canadian operations as part of a broader global tie-up, a deal described by analysts as very positive for the British insurer.

“SL’s shares have suffered due to the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the Scottish independence referendum, this share price reaction is overdone in our view,” said Gordon Aitken, analyst at RBC Capital Markets.

“SL has already established additional registered companies outside of Scotland, there are 18 months before Scotland would become independent, a...transfer of assets and liabilities can be done relatively easily to a new life company, and 90 percent of SL’s customers are south of the border.”

(For a story on Scottish banks girding for possible independence, see )

Editing by Simon Jessop and Pravin Char

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