Ford warns of Brexit risks to its business

Thu Jun 9, 2016 11:04am EDT
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By Andreas Cremer

BERLIN (Reuters) - Ford (F.N: Quote) warned on Thursday that potential future investment in the United Kingdom could be at risk if a vote to leave the European Union leads to a significant deterioration in the country's business environment.

Ford is turning the corner in Europe after years of losses, recording its highest quarterly pretax profit since 2008 in the first three months of 2016 as it reduces personnel costs and sells more higher-margin cars.

In an interview with Reuters, Ford Europe Chief Executive Jim Farley said the U.S. automaker's "primary interest" was to maintain stability to increase its business further in the United Kingdom, its largest market in Europe.

"If the UK left the EU, it could create economic instability and uncertainty, the full consequences of which are unknown generally and, specifically, to our business," Farley said.

He declined to say whether Ford had a contingency plan in place if the United Kingdom votes to leave on June 23 but indicated that investment could be at risk if it withdrew.

"Should a vote to leave lead to a significant deterioration in the UK's business conditions and trade environment then that could impact business decision-making, including potential future investment," the CEO said.

The U.S. automaker has already sent a letter to its 14,000 UK employees saying it would be better if Britain, which is Europe's second biggest car market, stays in the EU.

Campaigners seeking to keep Britain in the EU have also said the country's role as a global financial hub could be under threat if it gives up its membership, resulting in job losses.   Continued...

Jim Farley, executive vice president and president of Ford EMEA poses next to the new Ford Vignale car at the 86th International Motor Show in Geneva, Switzerland, March 1, 2016.  REUTERS/Denis Balibouse