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Microsoft says UK should avoid Brexit and stay part of Europe

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Microsoft Corp said the UK should remain in the European Union, becoming one of the largest companies to come out against a June referendum to exit the bloc.

[SAN FRANCISCO] Microsoft Corp said the UK should remain in the European Union, becoming one of the largest companies to come out against a June referendum to exit the bloc.

Microsoft, which opened its first international office in the UK in 1982 and has more than 5,000 employees in the region, said in a statement Tuesday that being part of the EU was a key reason the company has been expanding in the country, noting its first overseas research and development laboratory is located in Cambridge, England.

"As a business that is very committed to this country, our view is that the UK should remain in the EU," Microsoft's UK chief executive officer Michel Van der Bel said.

"Historically, the UK being part of the EU has been one of several important criteria that make it one of the most attractive places in Europe for the range of investments we have made."

Microsoft's comments about "Brexit" echo those of Prime Minister David Cameron and business leaders who argue leaving the EU will crimp immigration and trade.

"This flexibility of doing business attracts the best people, and the investment that follows them, to the UK," Mr Van der Bel said.

The company said it remains committed to doing business in the UK, "but we also believe the UK remaining in the EU supports important criteria for continued and future investment by Microsoft and others."

The UK referendum is slated for June 23.

BLOOMBERG