Doubts over Bank’s move to capital

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Fresh doubts have emerged about whether Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov’s bank will ever open its doors in Edinburgh after it emerged that it has ditched its Scottish PR firm.

Lithuanian financial heavyweight Ukio Bankas hired Weber Shandwick to help it promote its proposed move into a new office on Castle Street.

But it has now severed its links with the firm, with no sign of any progress towards its aim of opening its first branch in the UK.

The latest move comes after Ukio Bankas was dropped as Hearts’ main shirt sponsor for this season.

It still has a UK website but for several years the site has said “the website of Ukio bankas Edinburgh branch is coming soon”.

Ukio Bankas first announced plans for an Edinburgh branch in 2006. It was to begin by offering personal banking services such as loans, current accounts, foreign exchange and mortgages, and in the longer term was to try to break into Edinburgh’s business banking market.

But the firm would need a UK bank to act as a “clearing bank” for such a move.

Banking insiders say that the economic slump meant that there were few UK banks that would be willing to take the risk.

Nobody at the company was available to comment on its Edinburgh plans.