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'Brexit' may lead to downgrades and slower economy, Moody's says
[LONDON] British manufacturers, retailers and universities may see their credit ratings slide if the UK votes to leave the European Union, according to Moody's Investors Service.
Economic growth is likely to slow and re-negotiating market access to European countries may take years in the event of a British exit, or "Brexit," in a June 23 referendum, the ratings firm said in a report published on Tuesday.
"The economic costs of the UK leaving the EU would outweigh the potential benefits," analysts led by Colin Ellis wrote in the report.
Organisations including the Bank of England and the Confederation of British Industry have warned the economy is likely to be damaged by a severing of ties, while smaller businesses tend to be more supportive of an EU exit. The pound fell Monday following the resignation of a prominent euroskeptic member of Prime Minister David Cameron's cabinet.
Automakers including Jaguar Land Rover Automotive and Aston Martin Holdings UK may be especially hit because of new tariffs following a "Brexit", Moody's said.
Manufacturers Rolls-Royce Holdings and BAE Systems as well as retailers such as Tesco Plc and NEXT Plc would also face supply- chain disruptions, according to the report.
UK universities may lose EU grants and face higher recruitment costs, Moody's added. Cardiff University and the University of Leeds have both warned of Brexit risks in recent debt sales. Meanwhile, sectors such as telecommunications and utilities may benefit from not having to comply with some EU directives, the report added.
"Certain areas that we think would be most affected by Brexit, such as the automobile sector, would also see a big effort to mitigate or eliminate those risks if it is a leave vote," said Richard Morawetz, a senior credit officer at Moody's.
Moody's joins Standard & Poor's and Fitch Ratings in warning about the risks of Britain leaving the EU, forecasting a decline in corporate profits if the UK is unable to negotiate access to European markets similar to that it currently enjoys.