U.K. Asset Managers Henderson, Ashmore Shrug Off `Brexit' Effect

  • Henderson CEO Formica expects `modest' impact to business
  • Ashmore's Shippey says money manager has no formal exit plan

U.K. asset managers Henderson Group Plc and Ashmore Group Plc say they expect a vote in favor of Britain leaving the European Union will have a minimal impact on their businesses.

Henderson Chief Executive Officer Andrew Formica said Thursday that disruption will be “modest” because many of the firm’s European-regulated funds are already domiciled in Luxembourg. The company reported a 35 percent jump in so-called SICAV assets to 20.1 billion pounds ($29 billion) in 2015.

Ashmore’s Finance Director Tom Shippey said while the emerging-market specialist had people looking at a “Brexit,” they hadn’t gone as far as to formulate a contingency plan. The bulk of the company’s assets came from non-U.K. investors, with only 10 percent of funds on the SICAV platform, he said.

Aberdeen Asset Management Plc CEO Martin Gilbert has also said that while an exit vote would be “inconvenient, it would not be too disastrous.” That contrasts with Guy Sears, interim CEO of the Investment Association, who told U.K. lawmakers in January that a retreat would bring “massive disruption.” Morgan Stanley analysts have also said that U.K. firms like Henderson faced bigger risks than banks to valuations.

“The biggest challenge for asset managers, should it happen, is about having a say around regulation,” said Formica, whose firm has set aside an extra 100 million pounds of regulatory capital in 2015. “The U.K. asset managers are clearly the largest on the European stage but, in the result of a Brexit, it will not have a voice that can influence.”

Prime Minister David Cameron, who faces euro-skeptic sentiment in his party and across the country, has pledged to hold a vote on Britain’s membership of the 28-nation bloc which may take place as early as June 21. EU leaders are due to meet in Brussels next week to discuss the U.K.’s pitch for renegotiating the U.K.’s relationship with the group.

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