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Vodafone hints at relocation from UK

Au revoir, auf wiedersehen and arrivederci!

Vodafone has hinted it may pack its bags and relocate its London-based headquarters following the momentous decision to leave the EU last week.

The biz which was founded in the UK noted that the majority of its profits are derived from outside Blighty.

Vodafone's continental business now accounts for 55 per cent of its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in 2015/16, with its UK company reckoned to amount to just 11 per cent of EBITDA.

The company noted that a large majority of its 462 million customers, 108,000 employees and 15,000 suppliers are based outside the UK.

Vodafone employed 12,391 people in Blighty in March 2015, the company's accounts show.

"The UK's membership of the European Union has been an important factor in the growth of a company such as Vodafone," it said in a statement first sent to the Financial Times.

"Freedom of movement of people, capital and goods are integral to the operation of any pan-European business as are single legal frameworks spanning all Member States," it said.

Access to the emerging European digital single market should represent a significant opportunity for the UK "one of the world's leading digital economies," it noted. However, following the result of Friday's referendum result that opportunity now looks in doubt.

"It remains unclear at this point how many of those positive attributes will remain in place once the process of the UK's exit from the European Union has been completed.

"It is therefore not yet possible to draw any firm conclusions regarding the long-term location for the headquarters of the Group. We will continue to evaluate the situation and will take whatever decisions are appropriate in the interests of our customers, shareholders and employees."

However, it reassured customers that it remains committed to supporting the UK and "will continue to invest in our UK local operating company in future".

A relocation scenario is not thought to affect its UK office in Newbury, Berkshire. Earlier this year Vodafone was reported to be laying off hundreds of staff at that office. ®

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