British companies are preparing for the possibility that the country will vote to leave the European Union with extra funds, pre-written statements and plans for late-night vigils by teams of consultants.
In the final week before Britain’s June 23 referendum on EU membership, the prospect of a “Leave” vote has come into sharp focus, prompting a last-minute flurry of preparations in the corridors of “UK PLC”.
Much of the focus is on communication — how to assure customers, employees and investors that there will be near-term business continuity in the event of an “Out” vote. Britain would have two years to negotiate its exit, or “Brexit”, from the 28-country block.
Treasury departments will also be working overtime because a vote for a Brexit would be expected to roil currency markets and have major consequences for trade, the economy and migration in Britain and elsewhere.
Many companies have yet to work out detailed plans, as any post-Brexit picture is unclear and opinion polls had until recently suggested the “Remain” camp was comfortably ahead.
But some have sprung into action since the momentum in the polls swung towards the “Leave” camp in the latter stages of campaigning, which was suspended on Thursday after a British lawmaker was killed.
In the financial services sector, where a Brexit vote will echo the loudest, large banks including Citi and Goldman Sachs will have senior traders working through the night, which is set to be among the most volatile 24 hours for markets in a quarter of a century.