Buyout Firms Tell U.K.: No-Deal Brexit Means No Deals

(Bloomberg) -- In a meeting at No. 10 Downing Street this week, a dozen executives from global private equity firms expressed concern about the prospect of a no-deal Brexit and their reluctance to boost investments in the U.K. amid the ensuing tumult, people familiar with the discussion said.

Buyout Firms Tell U.K.: No-Deal Brexit Means No Deals

U.K. Trade Secretary Liam Fox urged the buyout firms -- part of an industry that’s sitting on more than $1 trillion in investment firepower -- to support Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal, the people said, declining to be identified because the conversation was private. British takeovers would become more risky due to rising economic uncertainty if the U.K. doesn’t leave the European Union in an orderly fashion, they said.

The controversial plan for exiting the EU is the best available, Fox argued, though he left the impression that he wasn’t sure if the current deal would get through Parliament next week, according to some of the participants. May -- with the help of her business envoy, William Vereker -- has been urging top leaders in the wider business community to support her deal and lobby lawmakers to do the same, though the agreement is now widely expected to fail.

Fox asked the group -- which included senior figures from private equity firms including Apax Partners LLP and Carlyle Group LP -- to encourage the heads of the U.K. companies they back to get behind May and to contact their local government representatives, one of the people said.

For more on deals being pulled as Brexit uncertainty affects finance, click here.

Representatives for the private equity firms that attended the meeting declined to comment or didn’t immediately respond to requests. A spokeswoman for the Department of International Trade acknowledged that concerns were expressed at the meeting regarding a no-deal Brexit, though she didn’t elaborate further.

The Bank of England and Treasury have warned that leaving the EU without a deal could have severe consequences for the British economy, cutting house prices by 30 percent and weakening the pound by 25 percent.

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