Here’s What Executives Say About Effects of a Brexit on Business

As odds increase that the U.K. will vote to leave the European Union, executives are addressing questions about how an exit would affect their bottom lines.

Stocks and the pound dropped on Tuesday after four polls put the “Leave” campaign ahead of “Remain” and The Sun newspaper came out in favor of a so-called Brexit. Axa SA, France’s largest insurer, warned that there’s “extremely high” probability the U.K. will exit the 28-nation EU.

These comments were collected by Bloomberg from earnings calls, meetings, conferences and social media this month.

Daniel Pinto, chief executive officer of the corporate and investment bank for Europe, Middle East and Africa, JPMorgan Chase & Co.:
“The market is not pricing a lot about the Brexit. So a negative event could really produce some correction in the market.” (June 1)

Bill Gross, fund manager, Janus Capital Management LLC:
“If Brexit approved it will take several years to accomplish. Danger, however, is that others may get the itch -- France, Finland.” (June 14)

Akhil Johri, chief financial officer, United Technologies Corp.:
“The British pound is likely to weaken. You see that it’s almost sort of directly linked with the polls. When the Brexit vote goes up, the pound weakens. And I think that is the concern we would continue to watch. But definitely from a manufacturing point as well, we do export out of U.K., and depending on how it all ultimately works out, there could be some implications. So we as a corporation are not necessarily –- do not believe Brexit is good for either us or for manufacturing sector in the U.K., but we’ll see how it plays out.” (June 9)

Robert Walsh, CFO, Evercore Partners Inc.:
“So, our team there tells me that Brexit has made it harder to move deals along. It hasn’t stopped activity, but it’s just more work to move a transaction from a mandate through marketing, through working down to about a handful of buyers that you’re classically looking for.” (June 8)

Ken Moelis, chairman and CEO, Moelis & Co.:
“Brexit is not only a financial risk, I actually think it’s become almost a distraction in Europe. It’s all you talk about, it’s all you do, is talk about the vote and what’s going to happen. And now it’s bleeding a little bit into continental Europe as people think the effects of a Brexit will bleed and might lead to further unwinding of Europe. So it’s definitely having an effect there. So what I think we’re seeing is a slowdown in different places.” (June 14)

Rupert Green, head of investor relations, Amec Foster Wheeler Plc:
“We have a historic attachment to the U.K. and several of the European Union countries where we have bases. The free movement of labor is a benefit to us and removing that in net-net is probably a slight disadvantage, but we will cope if that’s the case and we will move on.” (June 9)

Jonny Mason, CFO, Halfords Group Plc:
“Our mind is open to other acquisitions at the moment, although there’s nothing on the blocks. And there’s also quite a lot of uncertainty in the air with Brexit, FX, consumer confidence. And so, it felt more appropriate just right now to keep the powder dry rather than do any sort of big gear-up special dividend.” (June 1)

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