London Bosses Less Familiar With Emerging Markets Than EU Rivals

  • More German, Dutch CEOs have worked in fast-growing regions
  • U.K. says it’s looking to emerging markets for Brexit boost

U.K. companies are seeking new markets beyond the European Union as it prepares to leave the bloc, but their chief executive officers trail their counterparts in some other EU countries in first-hand knowledge of fast-growing regions, a survey showed.

CEOs of companies in the FTSE 100 stock index are about half as likely to have direct experience working in emerging markets as top executives in Germany or the Netherlands, according to a study by recruiting firm DHR International.

Thirty-two percent of CEOs of companies in the Dutch AEX 25 index and 30 percent of those in Germany’s DAX 30 have first-hand experience of emerging markets, compared with 17 percent of FTSE 100 bosses, the survey showed.

“It is a surprise to see U.K. businesses lag behind some of their international competitors on this measure,” said Frank Smeekes, managing partner at DHR, in a statement. “With a relatively small home market, U.K. businesses have traditionally looked overseas for expansion.”

U.K. International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, a supporter of leaving the EU, said in a September speech that the country was entering a “post-geography trading world.”

While U.K. CEOs lag some of their European rivals, they’re becoming more worldly. The number of FTSE 100 leaders with emerging-market experience has risen from 13 percent 10 years ago, while it has dropped in both France and Germany.

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