Microsoft, Hewlett Packard Say U.K. Should Avoid Brexit

  • Companies say EU membership important for future investments
  • Both businesses employ thousands of staff in the U.K.
Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Microsoft Corp. said the U.K. should remain in the European Union, becoming one of the largest companies to come out against a June referendum to exit the bloc.

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Microsoft, which opened its first international office in the U.K. in 1982 and has more than 5,000 employees in the region, said in a statement Tuesday that being part of the E.U. was a key reason the company has been expanding in the country, noting its first overseas research and development laboratory is located in Cambridge, England.

Michel Van der Bel

Source: Microsoft Corp.

"As a business that is very committed to this country, our view is that the U.K. should remain in the EU," Microsoft’s U.K. Chief Executive Officer Michel Van der Bel said. "Historically, the U.K. being part of the EU has been one of several important criteria that make it one of the most attractive places in Europe for the range of investments we have made."

Microsoft’s comments about "Brexit" echo those of Prime Minister David Cameron and business leaders who argue leaving the EU will crimp immigration and trade. "This flexibility of doing business attracts the best people, and the investment that follows them, to the U.K.," Van der Bel said.

The company said it remains committed to doing business in the U.K., "but we also believe the U.K. remaining in the EU supports important criteria for continued and future investment by Microsoft and others."

Hewlett Packard

In a memo to Hewlett Packard Enterprise staff attributed to the company’s U.K. Managing Director Andy Isherwood, HPE also supports the U.K. remaining in the EU.

"We believe that if the U.K. were to leave the EU it would be likely to have a detrimental impact on the long-term prospects for employment, research, investment and innovation in this country," Isherwood wrote to staff. "Combined with its particular capabilities as a global financial and legal center and the strength of the U.K.’s academic institutions, these benefits have made the U.K. an attractive investment location for multinational companies like HPE."

The U.K. referendum is slated for June 23.

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