Scottish vote may spook markets: Major asset manager

Aberdeen: Not worried about Scotland vote

The CEO of one of Europe's biggest asset managers has warned that markets will undoubtedly face a tough day on Friday as news of the outcome of the Scottish independence vote reaches investors.

Martin Gilbert, the CEO of Aberdeen Asset Management, rejected the notion of any permanent declines for the pound in an interview with CNBC however, anticipating just a day of dislocation before the currency rebounds.

He does not believe that capital will flee the U.K. if Scots vote to break away.

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"It will certainly surprise the markets, I think, if there is a yes vote. They are not really prepared for it. I mean, no one has really prepared, has any contingency plans in place," Gilbert said.

According to the latest poll by the Scottish Daily Mail, 52 percent favor staying in the United Kingdom while 48 percent support leaving. Around 8 percent of eligible voters remain undecided and hold the key to the outcome.

Gilbert is an advocate of sterlingization - the adoption of the pound without the backing of the Bank of England (BoE). But BoE central bank governor Mark Carney warned that such a move would not be compatible with political sovereignty and would require the employment of similar economic policies such as current account surpluses.

"I think it's actually quite good discipline to have sterlingization. I do agree with [Carney]. It's almost like a halfway house. But it actually puts a discipline on Scotland if we did have it, which I think would be good. You can't just become a nation that spends. I think I see his point but I do also think it would be good for Scotland," said Gilbert.

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Gilbert doesn't imagine the BoE remaining a lender of last resort. "That's why I think we will see all the banks moving their headquarters south. That's not such a big thing because most of them are already headquartered or quasi-headquartered in London."

He also dismissed suggestions that a 'Yes' vote would greatly harm the economy: "A lot of [those calls have] been exaggerated. We are in an election campaign so we've got to take what's said on both sides with a reasonable amount of cynicism."

Martin Gilbert, Chief Executive of Aberdeen Asset Management.
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"What we've done as a business is try to remain absolutely neutral... we think Scotland can thrive if it's a Yes vote or a No vote," Gilbert said.

Despite leading an Aberdeen-based firm with roughly £322 billion in assets, the Scotsman said the firm would not move its headquarters to London if the 'Yes' camp triumphs.

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"We are not like a bank with assets on our balance sheet. I think why the Prudential Regulation Authority and the Bank of England suggested to banks that they should relocate was to stop a run on the deposits if it were to be a 'Yes' vote," he said.

Scotland-based businesses including Lloyds and the Royal Bank of Scotland already announced that they would move their headquarters to London in the case of independence.