Vodafone ‘could relocate HQ’ after a Brexit vote

A vote to leave the European Union in Thursday's referendum will represent a "great missed opportunity" for the UK to participate in the growth of the digital market, the head of Vodafone has warned.

Vodafone HQ
Vittorio Calao, the firm's chief executive, suggested in an interview with the BBC's Radio 4 Today programme that Vodafone would consider moving its international headquarters out of the UK were there to be a vote in favour of a Brexit.He said, "We think the digital single market is the next big opportunity for the economy in Europe in general and for Britain in particular."The previous incarnation of the digital market was great for manufacturing if you think about the advantage that this has given to countries like Germany or even Italy."Now the new one, the new thing, is coming – it's the digital single market for digital goods, digital services, and Britain is particularly strong economically in that area."From our point of view it would be a missed opportunity, a great missed opportunity, if Britain was trying to sit outside of it and not shaping it from inside."If Brexit comes with restrictions of free movement of people or free movement of capital then of course we should reconsider our position (on retaining Vodafone's HQ in the UK), but for the time being we hope that that will not happen and if it happens then it happens without changes to those two important things."He also rejected the suggestion that his intervention in the final days of the referendum campaign was due to his company's vested interest in the result. "I wouldn't agree. I would say that our customers want roaming, want the elimination of borders, want to be able to be freely part of a single territory," he said.Mr Calao's comments came as currency trader George Soros warned a Brexit vote would trigger a plunge in the value of the pound greater than the one seen on 'Black Wednesday' – the currency crisis in 1992 that saw the UK crash out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM), despite the government briefly raising interest rates to 15 per cent.Mr Soros predicted that there would be no benefits to the economy from a Brexit vote and that most people would be left "considerably poorer".He told Tuesday's Guardian, "Too many believe that a vote to leave will have no effect on their personal financial positions. This is wishful thinking."If Britain leaves the EU it will have at least one very clear and immediate effect that will touch every household: the value of the pound would decline precipitously."A vote to leave the EU would also have an immediate and dramatic impact on financial markets, investment, prices and jobs. A vote to leave could see the week end with a Black Friday and serious consequences for ordinary people."

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