From drinks to drugs to cars: Global business hit by EU vote

Fri Jun 24, 2016 2:11pm EDT
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By Ben Hirschler and Martinne Geller

LONDON (Reuters) - Chief executives from Tokyo to Denver prepared for long-term disruption, job cuts and lower profits on Friday after Britain's vote to leave the European Union raised widespread fears over economic growth and sent share prices spinning.

In Britain itself, businesses including aerospace, housebuilders and drugmakers fear a range of difficulties from slumping demand to new regulatory hurdles as the pound plunged to its lowest level since 1985.

British Airways owner IAG (ICAG.L: Quote) warned that it would no longer meet its annual profit target and car manufacturers including Ford (F.N: Quote), which employs around 14,000 people in the United Kingdom, indicated that it could ultimately lead to job cuts.

"Ford will take whatever action is needed to ensure that our European business remains competitive," the company said, adding that it had not changed its investment plans yet.

World stocks headed for one the biggest slumps on record as investors predicted the impact of the narrow 52 vs 48 percent vote for Britain to leave the European Union would damage economic confidence across the globe.

The president of Japan's Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal (5401.T: Quote), the world's second-largest steelmaker, said the vote was extremely disappointing.

"We are greatly concerned for the negative impact this will have, not only on Britain and the EU but also on the global economy," said Kosei Shindo.

Those who campaigned for Britain to leave had said a weaker pound could help UK exports, but it will also reduce the value of foreign companies' UK earnings and raise questions about access to the EU market.   Continued...

A sign is seen at an AstraZeneca site in Macclesfield, central England May 19, 2014. REUTERS/Phil Noble/File Photo -