Brexit Would Be ‘Disaster,’ Deutsche Bank’s Chairman Says

  • Paul Achleitner comments on U.K. vote in Wednesday speech
  • Also lamented growing strains of populism in U.S., Europe

'Brexit': What Happens if the U.K. Leaves the EU

Deutsche Bank AG Chairman Paul Achleitner has become the latest global banking leader to warn about the potential fallout if U.K. voters decide to leave the European Union.

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

A yes vote next week to so-called Brexit would be an “economic disaster for the U.K. and a political disaster for the EU,” Achleitner said at a dinner Wednesday night in New York hosted by the American Council on Germany. During his speech, he drew a contrast between public opinion polls, which point to a vote to leave the EU, and gambling odds, which reflect a preference to remain politically and economically attached to the continent.

Achleitner also lamented the growing strains of populism in the U.S. and Europe and the regulatory pressures, which he said are preventing many European banks from making loans and stimulating economic activity. But he reserved his strongest words for the Brexit vote.

“London bookies and the betting industry are still in the ‘remain’ camp,” he said. “I hope they’re right, because if it works the other way, it’s an economic disaster for the U.K. and a political disaster for the EU.”

Bank leaders including JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Jamie Dimon and HSBC Holdings Plc’s Stuart Gulliver have also issued cautions on a potential U.K. exit following the June 23 referendum. Some executives have predicted market turbulence, long-term uncertainty for the U.K. and job cuts in London’s financial industry if firms shift certain operations to the Continent.

Deutsche Bank fell as much as 3.6 percent on Thursday, hitting the lowest since at least 1992, when Bloomberg first started compiling data. The shares traded at 12.99 euros at 12:55 p.m. in Frankfurt, down 2.3 percent.

For a QuickTake on the Brexit debate, click here.

The most recent poll, by Ipsos Mori for the Evening Standard newspaper, found 53 percent of respondents will vote to leave, compared with 47 percent for "Remain," excluding those who didn’t yet know.

Deutsche Bank Chief Executive Officer John Cryan said last month that the Frankfurt-based company would probably move some trading activities if a Brexit vote prevails. It would be “counterintuitive” to trade euro-zone products such as Italian government bonds out of London if Britain was no longer part of the EU, he said.

Michael Bloomberg, the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, has publicly supported the campaign to keep the U.K. in the EU.

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