29 Jun 2016 11:30am

Companies consider moving operations out of UK following EU exit vote

A number of businesses including Vodafone and Goldman Sachs are considering moving some operations out of the UK following a vote to exit the EU last week

Vodafone Group HQ warned it could move its headquarters outside of the UK depending on the outcome of the EU exit negotiations.

A Vodafone spokesperson said the freedom of movement of people, capital and good are “integral to the operation of any pan-European business as are single legal frameworks spanning all member states”.

As a result, the business would only remain headquartered in London if the UK secured access to the single market.

“It remains unclear at this point how many of those positive attributes will remain in place once the process of the UK's exit from the European Union has been completed.

“It is therefore not yet possible to draw any firm conclusions regarding the long-term location for the headquarters of the group,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Vodafone said it would continue to evaluate the situation and take whatever decisions appropriate in the interests of its customers, shareholders and employees. It added that the statement refers to Vodafone Group HQ in London, not the firm's operations in Newbury.

Elsewhere, the co-chief executive of Goldman Sachs said that the bank could move 6,500 of its staff currently in the UK to Europe.

Richard Gnodde told The Times newspaper that “every outcome is possible” when asked about contingency plans following the Britain’s decision.

The bank said in a statement after the vote, “We respect the decision of the British electorate and have been focused on planning for either referendum outcome for many months.

“Goldman Sachs has a long history of adapting to change, and we will work with relevant authorities as the terms of the exit become clear.

I don't believe the public realised what a mess their vote would cost

Richard Branson

France’s central bank governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau said that big US banks, including JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley may need to find a new legal home base if Britain fails to secure continued access to the single market in its exit talks.

Some of London’s largest investment banks have already approached regulators to secure licences and have begun lining up executives to relocate, according to the Financial Times.

HSBC said before the referendum that it could move as many as 1,000 trading jobs to Paris in the event of a vote to leave. JP Morgan also warned that up to 4,000 jobs could be shifted out of the UK. Dublin, Frankfurt and Paris are likely alternative locations for banks in order to secure unrestricted access to the EU.

Meanwhile, Virgin Group’s boss Richard Branson revealed a deal to buy a British company has been cancelled following the EU referendum result. Branson said the deal would have involved 3,000 jobs.

The group has lost one third of its value since last week’s vote to leave the EU, he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

Branson said, “I don't believe the public realised what a mess their vote would cost.

“Bank shares, some of them have gone done by as much as 50%, £2trn got wiped off the global stock markets, the pound has collapsed to its lowest level in 30 years, and we will go into recession unless we can actually send signals to the world very quickly that we're going to do something about it.

“We were about to do a very big deal, we cancelled that deal, that would have involved 3,000 jobs, and that’s happening all over the country.”

Jessica Fino

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