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An undisclosed number of UK jobs may be at risk after mobile network operator Vodafone said it would consider the future of its London headquarters after the country voted to leave the European Union (EU) in a so-called Brexit.
Vodafone was founded in the UK to oversee the launch of the country’s first mobile phone network in January 1985. Nowadays it generates barely 10% of its sales from within the UK while its European operations account for just over half of revenues.
However, the company still employs 13,000 staff in the UK at a number of sites, including its main headquarters at Paddington in London, and its operations centre at Newbury in Berkshire.
In a statement, Vodafone said that freedom of movement for people, capital and goods was integral to the operation of European businesses, as were the single-market legal frameworks guaranteed by the EU. It added that access to the emerging digital single market was a significant opportunity for the UK.
“It remains unclear at this point how many of those positive attributes will remain in place once the process of the UK’s exit from the European Union has been completed. It is therefore not yet possible to draw any firm conclusions regarding the long-term location for the headquarters of the group,” it said.
Vodafone is understood to be conducting a review of its activities in the EU – in terms of communications regulation and policy – to be sure it can continue to work with its European customers.
The operator also stressed that it was committed to supporting both consumer and business customers in the UK, and will not let up on its investment plans for the market.
A number of other organisations, many of them in the financial services sector, have already hinted at plans to offshore parts of their operations that deal with customers inside the EU. Among them are Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Visa.
Meanwhile, Liberty Global boss Mike Fries has insisted that his company’s planned merger with Vodafone in the Netherlands remained on track, and would be unaffected by Brexit.
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