London’s Largest Homebuilder Says U.K. Should Stay in EU

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Staying in the European Union is the best way to ensure London remains a “world city,” according to homebuilder Berkeley Group Holdings.

Maintaining the city’s status makes it easier to attract investment to fund housing development, the company said in its earnings statement Wednesday. Berkeley is developing 10 percent of all new homes under construction in London.

“London’s continued preeminence as a world city is a critical factor in addressing the capital’s housing shortage,” managing director Rob Perrins said. “Berkeley considers it important that the U.K. continues to play a major role in, and operate as part of, the European Union.”

Prime Minister David Cameron has promised a referendum on E.U. membership before the end of 2017 after negotiating for changes in the U.K.’s relationship with the 28-nation bloc. The planned referendum puts Britain’s top credit rating at risk because economic policy could be more exposed to party politics, Standard & Poor’s said on June 12.

Staying in the EU will also maintain a needed supply of labor, Perrins said by phone. The construction industry needs almost one million new workers in the next five years, according to consultant EC Harris LLP.

“We need to upskill the workforce and we need to bring skills into London and immigration is critical to that,” he said. “We’ve got to be positive about the immigration debate but stop the abuses.”

Berkeley, based in Cobham, England, said revenue rose 30.8 percent to 2.1 billion pounds ($3.28 billion) in the 12 months through April. Its shares rose as much as 8.1 percent today to 3,415 pence, the highest ever.

(Adds managing director’s comment in sixth paragraph.)
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