Scottish independence poses ratings risk to insurers - S&P

Reuters
Scottish bank notes are displayed in London
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Scottish bank notes are displayed in London, April 23, 2014. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

LONDON (Reuters) - A vote in favour of independence could trigger negative rating action against insurance companies operating in Scotland, Standard & Poor's warned on Friday.

Uncertainties such as what currency Scotland will use if it votes on Sept. 18 to leave the United Kingdom or whether it will be a member of the European Union could affect ratings.

Scottish tax and regulatory rules might diverge from those of the U.K., adding complexities and raising costs for insurers, the ratings agency said in a statement.

"Insurers with discrete Scottish subsidiaries would feel the greatest rating impact from a "yes" vote," S&P said.

Recent opinion polls have suggested Scottish separatists are closing the gap on their unionist rivals before the Sept. 18 referendum, though a rejection of independence still looks likely.

"Even if the `No' campaign is victorious, both major U.K. parties have promised to devolve further powers to the Scottish parliament -- a shift that could itself impact the insurance sector," the agency cautioned.

(Reporting by Nishant Kumar; Editing by Larry King)

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