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Mike Fries, CEO of Liberty Global, has warned that the company would seriously reconsider future investment in the UK if it votes to leave the EU.
Liberty Global, owns Virgin Media in the UK, and its shareholders have overwhelmingly approved a donation of up to £700,000 (€880,000) equivalent 10 per cent of the maximum amount the official campaigns can spend.
Fries told the FT a decision to leave the EU would create unnecessary political, regulatory and economic uncertainty. “We will probably deploy capital elsewhere,” he said. “We are a multinational that has plenty of opportunities to create value for shareholders and we will always seek the highest return; that’s our job.”
Virgin Media, which has 14,000 staff in Britain, is investing £3 billion in upgrading the broadband network for 4 million homes. Fries said that while that particular project was “too far down the road” to stop, Liberty would have to think hard about whether to launch similar capital programmes if the UK voted for Brexit.
In the event of a recession caused by a vote for Brexit, Liberty Global fears that consumers might be less willing to continue to invest in cable services. “It could be a mild cold or a total flu. But it is enough of a worry for us to be putting our money behind Remain,” he added.
In a further sign of Liberty’s commitment to the Remain campaign, Virgin Media CEO Tom Mockridge sent an email to all staff: “Over the past 40 years, I have lived and worked in many different countries around the world and my view is very simply that the UK is stronger, more secure and, ultimately, will continue to be more successful as a member of the EU.”