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SAP backs UK remaining in the EU ahead of vote

German company doesn't go into detail, though

Exclusive SAP, Europe’s largest native software firm, boasting annual revenue of 20.8bn euros, has come out in favour of Britain remaining a member of the EU.

The industry’s largest maker of business software told The Register that Britain’s membership of the European Union would benefit both sides.

Part of the Germany-based firm's interest would seem to come from having the UK as a member of the same trading bloc.

A spokesperson told The Register the company believed UK membership of the European Union “benefits both the UK and EU and support beneficial international trade and investment for all parties.

“The UK is an important and effective voice in the EU and all member states benefit from a broader base for decision making and influencing international trade negotiations.”

SAP noted that a “yes” or “no” decision on Brexit was a decision for UK citizens and would not explain in detail why it believed the UK was better in the EU. It is, however, the latest big name and the first mainland EU tech firm, to speak out against a UK vote in favour of leaving the EU.

UK-based telephone carriers BT and Vodafone have come out in favour of staying in the EU, warning Brexit would threaten both investment and jobs in the country. ARM – the British chip architecture firm that hit unexpected fortune with the global success of Apple’s iPad and iPhone, which both use its designs – is worried that Brexit would hurt its ability to easily recruit workers from Europe.

Chief financial officer Chris Kennedy is reported to have said it would slow ARM down.

A Britain outside the single market would create similar concerns for SAP, in terms of ease of access to labour. Also, it would remove the UK from the EU’s plan for a single digital market – an initiative the EU claims is about removing regulations and restrictions for online business in 28 national markets.

A “yes” to Brexit would create uncertainty for SAP which groups the UK together with Ireland. In its organisation the UK forms part of its EMEA reporting region. EMEA is SAP’s second-largest market after the Americas and its second-fastest growing, again after the Americas.

The UK's importance is highlighted by being repeatedly called out in recent earnings as a big growth market for cloud and Hana, SAP's in-memory database – the foundation of S/4HANA. It’s main UKI office is just outside Heathrow Airport, in Feltham.

UKI kicked off 2016 with a senior management shuffle: it told The Register this was designed to “set the business up for success in 2016”.

The UK is home to major SAP customers such as Boots, part of the US Walgreen’s pharmacy retail empire. The pharmacy chain rolled out SAP in 2007 as part of a major overhaul. Boots is one of those cited by SAP has moving to S/4HANA and that last year sources tell us signed a $40m deal with SAP.

Other customers include Shell, which is not only standardized on SAP ERP but now also using SAP Hana. ®

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