Philips could quit Britain if UK votes ‘No’ to Europe

Frans van Houten, chief executive of Dutch electronics group Royal Philips, has warned that the company may reconsider investing in the UK were the country to leave the European Union in a referendum, reports The Telegraph.

Asked whether Philips would look at its UK investment – including 1,800 staff – if there were a No vote, Mr van Houten told The Telegraph: “We would have to think carefully about that.”

But he went on to say that he believed such an outcome would be “unimaginable” and that it would be “a real loss if the United Kingdom would not be part of Europe”.

However, there is no guarantee that a referendum will be held, and the business lobby remains divided over the EU.

Philips has its UK head office in Guildford, as well as sites in Cambridge and Glemsford, Suffolk.

Mr van Houten said the company remained strongly committed to the European Union. “I think of the world as geographical regions, and it excites me to think about the opportunity that Europe can have if we consider it to be the 500 million-people region that it is,” he said.

“We can take two courses of action. We can squabble between the siblings in Europe and not be very productive and then see China and the US win over the European region.

‘Or – and this is my preferred choice – we team up together and are the strong region that we want to be, using each others’ strengths and building on our commonalities to become the smartest region in the world.”