THE Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh will host a gathering of business leaders this week in what could be the beginning of the formation of a Scottish stock exchange.

The event, which will be opened by Lord Provost of Edinburgh Frank Ross, will showcase Project Heather, which aims to bring trading back to Scotland for the first time since trading closed in Glasgow in the early 1970s.

Exchanges once operated in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Dundee, Glasgow and Greenock before merging, when the Scottish exchange was absorbed in to the London Stock Exchange.

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Despite the fact that almost half a century has passed between stock-trading in Scotland and the present day, supporters of the idea say their case is supported by the fact that Edinburgh is Europe’s fourth-largest financial centre.

Indeed, major Scottish companies such AG Barr, John Menzies, Scottish Television (STV Plc) and Weir Group retain the stock market listing they established back in Scotland’s trading heyday.

Roger Mullin, former SNP MP and now founding director of Momentous Change Ltd, outlined the potential of the idea.

“It is a project that will serve the Scottish economy and Scotland’s financial infrastructure, but it also has international reach,” he said.

“The amount of potential that a stock exchange has is very considerable.

“We have attracted a big audience of investors who are very keen to come along and learn about this.”

Project Heater CEO Tomás Carruthers has already established a partnership with Euronext, an exchange operator representing a €3.8 trillion market capitalization active in Brussels, London, Lisbon, Dublin, and Paris.

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It aims to build on cross-party support in Scotland and the rest of the UK. Momentous Change Ltd, fronted by Mullin and another former SNP MP Michelle Thomson, published a report in November last year on the Scottish stock exchange.

The report stated that in 2017, Scotland’s GDP was estimated at

£168.5 billion. If an exchange had existed in 2017, for example, and matched the market capitalisation to GDP ratio of Ireland’s ratio, its market capitalization would have been some $96.9bn.

And were trading turnover to match Ireland’s rate, the report puts the figure at $19.2bn.

Project Heather’s main goal, subject to FCA approval, is to bring a Scottish stock exchange live in the second half of 2019.

And the Scottish stock exchange envisaged also carries an ambition of responsibility, which would be the first investment exchange to be focused on businesses driving measurable positive and sustainable social and environmental impacts.

In today’s Sunday National (right), Carruthers said: “I point to the fact that this is not just about Scotland but is in fact a global imperative. We have only a few years left to reverse climate change and face an increasingly uncertain geo-political environment with societal challenges that can be fixed. It’s not too late.

“We all need to step up and fix the current challenges we face for future generations,” he added.

More than 140 senior business figures have already signed up for the event which will feature speeches from Carruthers as well as Jan Treuren, head of product and change management at Euro CCP.

A panel discussion will then take place with: Lee Qian, investment manager at Baillie Gifford; Meg Brown, managing director at Impax Asset Management; Aidan Brady, CEO of the UK Municipal Bonds Agency; and will be chaired by Michelle Thomson, founding director of Momentous Change Ltd.