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A general view of the Scottish head office of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) at St Andrew Square in Edinburgh Thursday Sept. 11, 2014 as the First Minister and SNP leader, Alex Salmond has said there would be an "inevitable investigation" over allegations that the British Treasury leaked "market-sensitive" information about RBS's proposal to register itself in England if Scotland votes for independence in the September 18 referendum.Andrew Milligan/The Associated Press

Scotland's vote over separation from the United Kingdom has raised the ire of multinationals with headquarters in the region, while Canadian companies wait and watch from the sidelines.

Britain was tossed into tumult by plans for the Scottish referendum, scheduled for Sept. 18, with financial firms, energy leaders and even retailers saying the change would negatively affect their businesses. Some pledged to move their headquarters if voters say 'aye' to separation.

Five banks have declared intentions to move their registered offices to England should Scotland separate and are preparing for that possibility. British heavyweight Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC, with a 287-year history in Scotland, said the possible impact on credit ratings and the legal and regulatory landscape would be reasons to relocate its official headquarters. The bank said it would mean no changes for retail customers.

Other banks developing contingency plans for a "yes" vote include Tesco Bank, Lloyds Banking Group PLC, TSB Bank PLC and National Australia Bank's Scottish lender Clydesdale Bank.

A variety of retailers have also told British media that the cost of goods could rise in an independent Scotland.

Some of the loudest objections have come from major energy companies that operate in the North Sea, where the nearly 50-year-old oil industry is maturing.

British oil giant BP PLC said opportunities in the region are becoming "smaller and more challenging," adding that with mounting costs from managing and decommissioning mature oil assets, the company needs stability.

"As a major investor in Scotland – now and into the future – BP believes that the future prospects for the North Sea are best served by maintaining the existing capacity and integrity of the United Kingdom," said Bob Dudley, group chief executive, in a statement.

Canadian companies located in Scotland contribute about 5,000 jobs to the region, many of them in the oil and gas industry. Canadian companies based near the coastal city of Aberdeen are responsible for about 30 per cent of the oil and gas produced in the North Sea, according to investment advocacy group Scottish Development International (SDI), a partnership with the Scottish government and others.

Calgary-based Talisman Energy Inc., a big offshore oil operator in the North Sea, said it was not taking a position on the referendum issue and had no comment. The company reduced its stake in the region in 2012 to focus on projects in more lucrative areas, selling 49 per cent of its Aberdeen-based energy business to Sinopec International Petroleum Exploration and Production Co. for $1.5-billion (U.S.).

Energy services company ShawCor Ltd. has interests in Scotland, but said it does not have a position on the Scottish independence vote.

"Any impact on our company would depend on whether changes in political arrangements between Scotland and the U.K. impacted the future level of investment in offshore oil and gas production," said Gary Love, chief financial officer at ShawCor. "At this time, it would be highly speculative to try to forecast any such changes in future oil and gas investment."

Richmond, B.C.-headquartered CHC Helicopter Corp., has been operating flight services to energy companies the North Sea's deep-water offshore oil and gas industry from the Scottish and Norwegian coasts for decades. The company is watching the vote, but thinks the importance of the industry to local economies protects it somewhat.

"Oil and gas is so important that the expectation is that all the work in support of it continues whichever way the referendum plays out," said T.R. Reid, vice-president of communications at CHC. "As long as that's the case, and there are still people who need to get to the installations and back, we'll continue to fly."

Roughly 50 Canadian companies operate or have some representation in Scotland, based on SDI's assessment.

One of this country's largest contributions to the Scottish economy, according to the SDI figures, is the $107.2-million that 100,000 Canadian tourists spend there in an average year.

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