City of London Needs Brexit Timetable Certainty, Aviva CEO Says

Brexit Time Frame Sought for Square Mile Certainty
  • British insurer plans to continue investing in the U.K.
  • London to remain a global financial center even after Brexit

The U.K. government needs to provide the finance industry with more certainty about when it will trigger the formal two-year process to leave the European Union, Aviva Plc Chief Executive Officer Mark Wilson said.

“What the investment market and us want is certainty of time frame," the CEO of Britain’s second-largest insurer said in a television interview with Bloomberg’s Francine Lacqua. “There is an extraordinary amount of work to do and it’s up to businesses to have a say in that.”

Mark Wilson
Mark Wilson
Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond warned European governments on Thursday that they will end up hurting their own economies if they use Brexit to shrink London’s financial might. The chancellor’s comments came after he met British banking leaders, who worry EU leaders will seek to punish the industry during the negotiations.

“We need to take some time, take a deep breath, we need to sort out what the plan is,” Wilson said. “We don’t have to sort out all the answers, but the answers are going to be different for different industries.”

The insurer is still planning to invest in the U.K. and expects that the impact on operations from Brexit will be modest, the CEO said. Aviva employs more than 33,000 people globally.

London will keep its status as a global financial center regardless of when Britain leaves the European Union, Wilson said.

“It is still a financial hub,” he said. “Trying to unwind all of that is a pretty tall order and I don’t think that will happen.”

Aviva has shrugged off the fallout from Britain’s vote to leave the EU. It reported increased profit and raised the dividend when it announced half-year results in August. The shares are largely unchanged since the June 23 vote, after initially slumping 16 percent amid concern that the insurer’s investments might fall in value.

“The reality is that London is home for insurance, so for us it doesn’t make much difference,” he said. “In the EU there is not one single insurance market. It’s no easier for me to do business in France then Singapore or China.”

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