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Fund giant PIMCO sees little risk of UK exit from EU

[LONDON] The chance of Britain leaving the European Union looks very low and uncertainty about the outcome of the country's EU membership referendum is not likely to affect business investment, a senior executive with global investment firm PIMCO said.

Andrew Balls, PIMCO's global fixed income chief investment officer, said if uncertainty increased to the levels reached around the time of Scotland's independence referendum last year, it could cause delays to investment decisions.

"But at this point it seems less likely that that would be the case," he told reporters.

British Prime Minister David Cameron plans to hold a referendum on Britain's EU membership by 2017. Opinion polls show more British voters favour staying in the bloc than leaving.

Mike Amey, the head of PIMCO's sterling portfolio, said Britain should move quickly to hold the referendum, possibly in 2016, to avoid the risk of a long period of uncertainty affecting growth.

But he said government fiscal policy and the timing of interest rate hikes by the Bank of England were bigger risks for British businesses than the EU referendum.