Most EU companies consider Brexit a threat

MOST European business chiefs see the UK’s decision to leave the European Union as a threat to business that will affect profits, according to new research.

A poll of 700 of Europe’s business leaders for accountancy firm RSM found that a quarter of respondents were reviewing their UK investment plans because of Brexit.

Most said Brexit posed a threat, with two-fifths considering the UK a less attractive investment destination. A total of 39% saw it as an opportunity though, RSM said.

With just three months to go before prime minister Theresa May plans to trigger Article 50 – which kick starts official exit talks – 14% said Brexit had already affected them. Twice as many (32%) said they expected a hit once the UK separates from the EU.

“The UK’s decision to leave the EU is not just a challenge for British businesses but for companies across Europe, uncertain about what Brexit means for their international ambitions,” said Anand Selvarajan, regional leader for Europe, RSM International.

European businesses were most concerned about rises to their cost base. Of those businesses that will be affected by the vote to leave the EU, 58% expected the cost of doing business to rise and half expected a hit on their bottom line.

The effect on suppliers was also a concern, with 42% expecting it to have a negative impact in future years.

Continued access to the single market was the number one priority for European firms with operations in the UK, followed by tax incentives and free movement of labour, RSM said.

“It is vital, in this period of uncertainty that businesses focus and prepare for the future based on the emerging facts and are not paralysed by the countless doomsday theories out there. Trade will continue and businesses need to be agile in responding to the evolving political and economic landscape,” Selvarajan said.

Related reading