UK firms mull moves in wake of Brexit


The vote for Brexit could also prompt the credit card company Visa to relocate hundreds of British jobs to the continent, according to reports last night. Meanwhile, Felix Hufeld, the head of Germany’s influential financial regulator Bafin, said yesterday that he could not see London hosting the headquarters of the “eurozone’s most important” stock exchange after Britain’s exit, casting fresh doubts about the planned merger of the London Stock Exchange and Deutsche Boerse, reports The Telegraph.

Vodafone said yesterday it would “continue to evaluate the situation and will take whatever decisions are appropriate in the interests of our customers, shareholders and employees” during negotiations.

The telecoms giant added that while it was too early to “draw any firm conclusions regarding the long-term location for the headquarters”, it had benefited from EU business policies. It has its headquarters in London and further offices in Newbury. Vodafone said that the free movement of people, capital and goods, which come with EU membership, had helped drive its growth. “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 EU has been completed,” the company said.

Just 11pc of Vodafone’s profits were generated in the UK in the last financial year, compared to 55pc from its European operations. Vodafone said the single legal framework spanning all member states, retaining freedom of movement were “integral to the operation of any pan-European business”.

Meanwhile easyJet’s chief executive Carolyn McCall told Channel 4 News that it “remains to be seen” whether the budget carrier would keep its HQ at Luton airport, where it has been based since it was founded in 1995.

“What I have said is that Luton is a massive base for us and we wouldn’t be moving lock, stock and barrel from Luton,” she added. EasyJet is looking at contingency measures including obtaining an air operator’s certificate in an EU country, to ensure continued access to the European Common Aviation Area.

Visa’s American sister company is understood to have stipulated that data from Visa card transactions should not leave Europe, prompting German regulators to request that Visa’s UK-based data centre should be shifted to another EU market after Britain’s exit, according to Sky News.

Separately, Mr Hufeld, Germany’s most senior financial regulator, added to growing discord about the structure of the LSE’s merger with the Deutsche Boerse. Germany’s political leaders are uneasy with the group’s headquarters being based in London.

“Without doubt… it is hard to imagine that the most important exchange venue in the eurozone would be steered from a headquarters outside the EU,” he said. “There certainly has to be an adjustment here.”

Mr Hufeld also warned that Britain could not remain a centre for trading in euros. The position of this €2 trillion-a-day foreign exchange and derivatives market is uncertain as the UK prepares to negotiate its exit from the union. LSE shareholders are due to vote on the £20bn all-share pairing on Monday, July 4.