FACTBOX-What business thinks about Britain's EU referendum

by Reuters
Thursday, 23 June 2016 07:17 GMT

LONDON, June 23 (Reuters) - Britain votes on June 23 on whether to remain a member of the European Union.

Following are the views of some business leaders: AIRLINES easyJet CEO Carolyn McCall: "We will do everything we can to make sure that consumers understand that they are far better off within the EU when it comes to connectivity and low fares."

"We think it would be very difficult for our government to negotiate with 27 other member states to get the flying rights that we have today within the EU." Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary: "The longer-term effect though is we will invest less in the UK - we will certainly switch some of our existing UK investment into other European countries because we want to continue to invest in the European Union and it will be bad for air travel and British tourism."

AUTOMOTIVE BMW's Director for sales and marketing Ian Robertson: "The UK has the most diverse car industry in Europe and is the fourth-largest market of BMW Group worldwide. From an industry perspective we would therefore regret seeing the UK leave the EU."

Jaguar Land Rover, Britain's biggest carmaker, estimates its annual profit could be cut by 1 billion pounds ($1.47 billion) by the end of the decade if Britain leaves the European Union, according to two sources familiar with the company's thinking.

"It is inevitable that we would face increasing and higher tariffs, making our products less competitive in Europe," CEO Ralph Speth wrote to workers in a letter.

CEO of Opel, owner of the Vauxhall brand, Karl-Thomas Neumann: "We have plants in Luton and Ellesmere Port. We will not turn our back on England. If Britons voted to leave the EU, life would carry on. We would continue to find ways to invest."

Chief executive of Volkswagen-owned British brand Bentley, Wolfgang Duerheimer: "Volkswagen Group has 110 locations around the world where they produce cars. That means they are not in any case reliant on the UK so if the situation changes dramatically, future decisions need to be considered among the circumstances you face."

BANKING AND FINANCE Colm Kelleher, president of Morgan Stanley : "If Britain were to leave Europe you would see a significant backlash against London as a financial centre."

Citi's UK head James Bardrick on what could happen post-Brexit: "We would have to operationally change the business and reallocate certain businesses back into the EU. That's not technically impossible ... but enormously costly and enormously inefficient ... and will mean the scale of our activities here will reduce." Mark Boleat, chairman of Policy and Resources Committee at the City of London Corporation: "If the UK votes to leave the EU, there would be serious consequences for the City of London's role as an international financial centre. We would see UK-based financial institutions lose access to the single market and some would consider relocating elsewhere in the EU - not overnight but over time."

HSBC chairman Douglas Flint: "Our own economic research is very clear about the advantages of Britain being at the heart of a reformed EU. We believe that the UK would enter a period of great economic uncertainty in the event of a vote to leave."

JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon: "If the UK leaves the EU, we may have no choice but to reorganise our business model here. Brexit could mean fewer JPMorgan jobs in the UK and more jobs in Europe."

ENERGY, OIL AND GAS The chief executive of oil giant Royal Dutch Shell Ben van Beurden was quoted as saying by The Sunday Times newspaper: "We are a company with a strong heritage in the UK and on the Continent. There would be a real break between the two, which would affect freedom of movement of staff, trade - we would be impacted. "There will be a path of divergence, and that will have all sorts of inefficiencies. That's not good for companies like ours that thrive by there being no barriers. That is a fundamental economic aspect of it."

The chief executive of BP Bob Dudley told the BBC: "Being outside the EU would be worse for the country as many of the rules would still apply and Britain would be in danger of losing influence on the world stage. "There are lots of technical tax reasons, trade flows, regulation, that would make it better for our business and the energy business in general, the oil and gas business, (if Britain) were a part of Europe."

Former CEO of National Grid Steve Holliday: "We cannot afford to lose the access to (European) energy supplies and interconnection, whatever the framework is eventually. Being part of the European energy market is unquestionably essential for the UK." HOUSEBUILDERS AND ESTATE AGENTS Rob Perrins, managing director of London-focused housebuilder Berkeley : "My concern would be around inward investment into London and it would slow down the growth of jobs and its influence. "If it retained less influence and less jobs, it will grow less quickly so it would actually need less homes built."

Mat Oakley, head of commercial research at real estate group Savills : "We have spoken to a number of people who've said we'll seriously consider moving our headquarters functions ... and our growth over the medium term to long term may well be more skewed to the EU ... if the UK were to leave."

INDUSTRIALS Airbus Group Chief Executive Tom Enders: "If Britain leaves, I cannot imagine that this would have positive consequences for our competitiveness in Britain." Roger Carr, chairman of BAE Systems : "I am a supporter of making it (the EU) better, more competitive and therefore seeking to improve it, but I still believe you can do that more effectively as a family member within rather than as a critic outside."

James Dyson, founder of the vacuum cleaner group Dyson: "We will create more wealth and more jobs by being outside the EU than we will within it, and we will be in control of our destiny... When the 'Remain' campaign tells us no one will trade with us if we leave the EU, sorry, it's absolute cobblers." JCB Chairman Anthony Bamford wrote to staff in a letter published in the Times: "The UK is a trading nation and the fifth largest economy in the world. I am very confident that we can stand on our own two feet. I believe that JCB and the UK can prosper just as much outside the EU, so there is very little to fear if we do choose to leave."

Rolls-Royce CEO Warren East: "We have taken the public position that as a company Rolls-Royce believes our customers, suppliers and employees benefit from the UK's membership of the European Union and that it is in the company's interests to remain a member."

PHARMACEUTICALS Andrew Witty, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline : "From a purely business, economic perspective, my view very strongly is we are much better off inside the European Union than outside of it. "It's very unclear to me what exactly the rule set would be on the outside. I think it runs the risk of creating long periods of uncertainty with no obvious route to a simpler world than the one in which we operate."

RECRUITMENT Steve Ingham, CEO of Michael Page : "I am concerned about the disruption, because it causes uncertainty and uncertainty means that people are unprepared to make decisions. It's not good for a candidate thinking about moving job, and it's not good for a client and that's more a concern."

RETAIL AND LEISURE Nick Varney CEO of Legoland-operator Merlin Entertainments : "In our case we don't think it will make any difference as to whether we're in or we're out of the EU."

Primark-owner AB Foods CEO George Weston: "The important point ... is that Brexit isn't a major threat to us one way or the other... We've had a good look at the potential impact of either Brexit or not Brexit on AB Foods and it's not very big."

Tim Martin chairman of JD Wetherspoon : "Will the UK be better off out of the European Union? Of course. Just look at what is happening now - the EU is already removing democratic powers from member states... Most people will say 'yes' to a common market and free trade; 'yes' to friendship and co-operation and 'yes' to free movement of labour among countries which are in the EU today - but we can achieve these aims outside the EU."

TELECOMS Gavin Patterson, CEO of BT, is quoted on the CBI website as saying: "We value the way the EU has helped to open up markets, it has been a genuine help when it comes to us providing services outside the UK... We face regulatory battles beyond Europe, trying to get a level playing field as we compete with overseas incumbents."

Vittorio Colao, CEO of Vodafone, told BBC radio: "We think the digital single market is the next big opportunity for the economy, in Europe in general and for Britain in particular...It would be a great missed opportunity if Britain was trying to sit outside of it and not shaping it from inside."

(Reporting By UK bureau and EMEA corporate finance team; compiled by Costas Pitas and Sarah Young)

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