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June 26, 2018updated 27 Jun 2018 12:52pm

Heathrow operator Ferrovial to move international HQ over Brexit fears

By Ellen Daniel

Heathrow operator Ferrovial has announced plans to move its international holdings from Oxford in the UK to Amsterdam in the Netherlands to remain in the European Union.

Ferrovial is the largest shareholder of Heathrow Airport, owning a 25% stake. The company also has a 50% stake in AGS Airports, which owns Aberdeen Airport, Glasgow International Airport and Southampton Airport.

The Spanish infrastructure operator, which is involved in the ongoing Crossrail project, currently runs its non-Spanish operations, including US, Canadian, Polish and UK operations, from its international headquarters in Oxford.

In a statement, the company confirmed that the reason behind the move was to remain under EU jurisdiction after the UK’s exit in 2019:

“Ferrovial has considered the relocation of the corporate registered office of holding companies of international businesses, currently in the UK, to a jurisdiction (Amsterdam) which is under the umbrella of European Union law. There is no impact on employment, and our operations in the UK will remain unchanged.”

The announcement came the morning after MPs voted in favour of a controversial $21bn project to construct a third runway at Heathrow.

According to Bloomberg, the group makes 20% of its revenue in the UK. In April last year, Ferrovial announced that it had frozen investment in the UK due to uncertainties over Brexit, despite UK boss Rafael del Pino saying that Britain’s departure could have “positive side effects”.

At the time of reporting, shares in Ferrovial have fallen by 0.23%.

Heathrow operator Ferrovial is not the only company anxious about Brexit

Ferrovial is the latest company to voice concerns over the impact of Brexit. According to a survey conducted by Dun & Bradstreet, 43% of business leaders say they have felt a negative financial impact since the Brexit vote and 37% say they have lost out on potential revenue as a result.

Last week, aeronautics company Airbus warned that it could leave the UK, putting 14,000 jobs at risk, in the event of the country exiting the EU without a withdrawal agreement.

Car manufacturer BMW also threatened to close British plants if a customs agreement was not reached, but made a U-turn when UK boss Ian Robertson confirmed that the company was not considering this option.

In March, Unilever announced plans to close its London headquarters and keep its headquarters in Rotterdam open.

Uncertainties may cause more companies to leave the UK

Although Ferrovial has said that UK operations and employment will remain unchanged, the move signals increasing anxiety among businesses over what Brexit, and the prospect of leaving the EU without a trade deal, will mean for them.

These fears are not unfounded, with the 19,000 pieces of EU legislation currently in force in the UK, meaning that changes to the regulatory framework could have an impact on businesses. Uncertainties over what form UK legislation will take post-Brexit are leading to some multinational businesses to relocate.

According to a survey by law firm Baker & McKenzie, half of the 800 EU executives polled have cut UK investment over Brexit.

In a statement, Airbus said:

“The UK exiting the EU next year without a deal – therefore leaving both the single market and customs union immediately and without any agreed transition – would lead to severe disruption and interruption of UK production. This scenario would force Airbus to reconsider its investments in the UK, and its long-term footprint in the country, severely undermining UK efforts to keep a competitive and innovative aerospace industry, developing high-value jobs and competences.”

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