The study by corporate law firm William Fry quizzed 200 firms on their post-Brexit intentions. Among those taking part were HSBC, Lloyds of London, Goldman Sachs, BlackRock Asset Management, JP Morgan and a number of US hedge funds.
While the survey doesn’t delve into fixed plans for individual firms, it found that 59% of respondents are currently undertaking Brexit contingency planning that may involve changing the geographical location of their business.
Of that number, 75% said Ireland is amongst the places under consideration; although Luxembourg, Germany and the Netherlands are also strong contenders. Over half of the respondents said significant spending plans are being held up on account of Brexit uncertainty.
Eavan Saunders, a senior partner at William Fry, said the company would expect to see movement sooner rather than later. “Big companies are not going to wait around for all the Brexit uncertainties to play out.
“There’s too much at stake for them and they can’t afford to expose their businesses to such uncertainty,” she said.
The biggest selling point for Ireland, amongst such firms, is the English-speaking population and the cultural similarities to the UK and US; although locations like Frankfurt hold the advantage in providing direct access to a domestic marketplace.
Welcoming the survey, IDA chief Martin Shanahan said: “Ireland’s stability, the certainty on EU membership and, therefore, access to the European market – coupled with the strong value proposition that Ireland already offers – will be important in the period ahead.”
Reuters yesterday reported that the Lloyd’s of London insurance market is actively working on plans to move some of its business to long-term EU locations; with Dublin heavily linked.
However, addressing a high-level meeting on EU trade policy in Bratislava, yesterday, Ireland South MEP Seán Kelly warned of the potential negative effect Brexit may have on Irish SMEs.
“The planned exit by the UK from the EU is a grave concern for Irish SMEs as the UK is our largest trading partner in the Union. The consequences of a Brexit and ensuring Ireland can continue to trade with its neighbour, in any eventuality, is the foremost issue for Irish exporters now,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ireland’s ambassador to Britain Dan Mulhall said that Ireland’s regulatory regime is dependable and of high enough quality to attract such large firms looking for new EU bases.
“In recent days, the Central Bank announced that it is restructuring its activities to appropriately deal with the potential movements of service providers from London to Ireland,” he said.