June, the month of the Brexit referendum. In a letter to a UK national newspaper on 7 June, Hitachi chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi wrote that a Brexit would force a “rethink” of the manufacturer’s operations and jobs in the UK, and that this view was shared by other international investors such as the parent manufacturers of leasing businesses: Siemens, GE, and Microsoft.
Nakanishi stated that Hitachi had headquartered in the UK in order to be considered as a European company, and to give them access to market of 500 million people.
Some might drily consider such a statement of inclusion from a Japanese company, a traditionally conservative and inward-facing island nation, but the message was stark.
“There are other reasons like the size of the UK market, availability of local and international talent and the support of our local communities – which is why we take a positive view of the UK inside Europe,” said Nakanishi.
“Therefore we have our regional headquarters here and moved our global rail headquarters to London. But take away the UK’s membership of the EU, and the future investment case looks very different.”
Since most leasing businesses have been very quiet up until now about the Brexit referendum, particularly UK domestic lenders without a European presence, the statement was significant.
If parent manufacturers decide to scale down their investments in the UK in the future because of a departure from the EU, it would have a significant effect on the supply chain businesses that work with large manufacturers such as Hitachi, Nissan, Toyota, Siemens and the rest, and ultimately their leasing businesses.
Not to mention the SMEs who have been innovating to supply these manufacturers within the UK.
I’d like to express my sincere thanks to Leasing Life and Motor Finance reporter Sotiris Kanaris, who is leaving at the end of June to become deputy editor of another of Progressive Media’s trade titles, Cranes Today.
Since January 2015 he has made energetic headwind into the European leasing market, carved out interesting features and exclusive news, and made contacts right across Europe.
Johnny and I wish him the best of luck.