Axa CEO Warns There’s an ‘Extremely High’ Probability of Brexit

There is an “extremely high” probability that the U.K. will vote to leave the European Union and investors will face “a true landscape of uncertainties,” Axa SA Chief Executive Officer Henri de Castries said.

Brexit Watch: The pound, the polls, and the probability of Brexit, all in one place

Neither the U.K. nor the EU region is prepared for negotiations that would follow a vote to leave on June 23, de Castries said at a conference in Paris. “If they remain, the situation isn’t simple either, and this is underestimated by lots of people,” because the result will be interpreted differently by each side, he said.

De Castries, who is stepping down from France’s largest insurer at the start of September, became one of the few executives to speak out on the likelihood of a British vote to exit the EU. The Sun, Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper, backed a so-called Brexit on its front page on Tuesday. Several polls on Monday also put the “Leave” campaign ahead. The pound and European stocks plunged.

If the U.K. votes to leave the EU, any complacency in the subsequent negotiations could encourage some other countries to seek special treatment within the political bloc, threatening "to accelerate the unraveling of Europe," de Castries said.

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