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Panasonic to shift European HQ from UK to Amsterdam over Brexit

JAPANESE CONSUMER ELECTRONICS manufacturer Panasonic is to shift its European HQ to Amsterdam and is also considering the future of its UK manufacturing operation, citing uncertainties triggered by Brexit.

In a statement, the company said that it planned to relocate its European HQ from Bracknell to the Dutch capital to “pursue improved efficiency and cost competitiveness while having easy access to the different markets within Europe”.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Panasonic European CEO Laurent Abadie said that the company was concerned about possible upcoming changes to tariffs and taxes as a result of Brexit, and the consequent competitiveness of its sole UK factory in Cardiff, South Wales.

“The big risk for Japanese companies are factories based in the UK that are importing and exporting parts,” Abadie told the Telegraph.

He continued: “We have a factory in Cardiff which is producing appliance products, which imports a lot of parts. That could be an issue, so we are studying it… At the moment there is no decision.”

It is believed that one of the tax issues Panasonic is concerned about is the fear that, post-Brexit, the Japanese government could declare the UK a tax haven and whack the company with a hefty tax bill.

Historically, added Abadie, the UK has been something of a front door to Europe for Japanese companies. This is partly on account of Thatch’ making the UK appear a lot friendlier to foreign investment than much of the rest of Europe in the 1980s, and partly on account of the excellence of the golf courses and scotch whisky (apparently).

A number of other Japanese companies and banks have also voiced their concerns over Brexit and indicated that they are eyeing up their UK HQs suspiciously with a view to moving them somewhere more clement.

A number of other Japanese businesses have also voiced frustration at a lack of clarity from the British government over Brexit.

In response, Prime Minister Theresa May, who is currently dancing badly in a jaunt round Africa, has suggested that the UK will negotiate a top-notch trade deal with Japan that will make everything all right.

The company’s UK HQ employs around 30 staff and around 20 of them will be expected to up sticks for the Netherlands or work remotely. Given that the company’s HQ is currently in Bracknell, that’s probably not so bad for the staff concerned.

The company’s manufacturing plant in Cardiff was established in 1976 and is conveniently located across the road from Waitrose. μ

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Source : Inquirer

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