The UK’s vote to leave the European Union on 23 June is a significant event that was, understandably, not a factor in last year’s report.
For borrowers, the overall sentiment appears somewhat mixed, with 31% of corporates of the view that Brexit will limit opportunities to access investors across borders and 19% revealing it has caused them to put funding plans on hold. However, 42% said it has no impact on their plans and 16% even believe it has created opportunities to obtain funding. It is worth noting the timing of the survey, over the summer in the immediate aftermath of the vote, is likely to have had a significant bearing on sentiment.
More than two-thirds of UK borrowers say the Brexit vote has hindered their ability to tap into alternative sources of funding beyond their home borders. Nearly half say it has put their plans to secure funding from alternative providers on hold – a reflection of the broad unease with which Brexit was met by the vast majority of London’s finance providers. The countries closest to the UK geographically also seemed more downbeat, with 53% of French and 37% of Benelux corporates saying it would limit their opportunities to obtain funding and 43% of companies in France saying it caused them to put their plans on hold.
Curiously, half of Italian borrowers say Brexit is likely to aid their efforts to secure funding from alternative providers. That is perhaps due as much to hopes that the UK’s decision will convince Brussels to focus on boosting growth, jobs and capital formation, as much as the belief it will portend changes in the region’s banking landscape. Nearly three out of five German borrowers say Brexit will have ‘no impact’ on their alternative funding plans, a reflection of the strength-in-depth of the country’s mainstream and alternative funding markets. It is a similar position to that of corporates in Spain, where 63% said it has no impact on their plans. This robust view is driven by the fact that UK investors currently do not play a significant part in the funding mix for companies in Spain.
By contrast, investors were more upbeat and shrugged off Brexit, with 43% saying that it provides opportunities for them due to anticipated changes in the European banking landscape and 29% saying it would have no impact on them. As with borrowers, investors in countries nearest to the UK were more downbeat, with 60% of investors in France and 47% in Benelux saying it would limit their ability to provide funding to businesses in the UK. Italy again was the most bullish on viewing Brexit as opening up opportunities – 80% of investors in Italy said it presented opportunities for them. Just 4% cent of investors said the vote would lead them to lend to companies based outside the European Union.
It’s unlikely that the full impact of Brexit will become clear for several years. Experts said the gloomy prognosis in the UK among borrowers and investors reflected a wider sense of unease, among British corporates and London-based financial services providers, as to the UK’s long term place in the world.