Schneider Would Review London Finance Base in Case of Brexit

  • CEO speaks in Bloomberg TV interview after Aveva bid fails
  • Schneider had a ‘very attractive proposal’ for Aveva, CEO says

Schneider Electric SA Chief Executive Officer Jean-Pascal Tricoire said the French industrial company would review whether to keep London as the base for its finance executives should the U.K. vote to leave the European Union.

“I would have to look at the relevance of my financial guys being based in London, if London loses its role," Tricoire said Thursday in an interview on Bloomberg TV. “I’m a very convinced European, I think the U.K. has a fundamental role in Europe, pushing it to more business friendly rules.”

Jean-Pascal Tricoire

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

The French executive was speaking the day after failing to get a deal for control of U.K. software-maker Aveva Group Plc after talks between the companies ended for the second time in six months. He also joins a host of other European corporate leaders who are increasingly speaking out on the future of the U.K. within the EU as the June 23 referendum nears. Five of the last six published polls have shown so-called Brexit ahead, unnerving investors. Deutsche Bank AG Chairman Paul Achleitner has said it would be an “economic disaster.”

In the case of Schneider, Tricoire signaled he could undo a relatively recent move to London by Chief Financial Officer Emmanuel Babeau, his deputy who is also in charge of legal affairs. The relocation by Babeau two years ago from headquarters near Paris came in the middle of a debate on French taxes. Tricoire himself is based in Hong Kong.

Favors ‘Brestay’

“In a world where there’s enough instability, and as an industrialist, I’d like the U.K. to be in Europe,” the French CEO said in the interview, adding that the company with nine factories in the U.K. prefers “Brestay” because its plans are designed for an “integrated market.”

Schneider’s bid to acquire Cambridge-based software-maker Aveva failed for the second time on Wednesday, just two days after the most recent discussions were made public. Two years ago, Schneider acquired the U.K. automation software company Invensys.

“We’re not shy of investing in the U.K.,” Tricoire said, adding that the “strategic rationale is incredibly good” for the Aveva deal and that Schneider put forward a “very attractive proposal” for investors.

He skirted the question of whether Schneider would try again for Aveva, saying it would continue to develop software and analytics.

For more on Schneider’s moves for Aveva, click here

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