Britain more attractive for foreign investment post-Brexit, say CEOs

UK rises to fourth most attractive investment destination for foreign investors after US, China and Germany

Britain has become a more attractive investment proposition for foreign companies post Brexit, says a survey of 5,000 global business leaders.

The UK has overtaken India as the world’s fourth most promising foreign investment opportunity, according to PwC’s annual CEO Survey.

America, China and Germany remained the top three investment destinations.

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Kevin Ellis, chairman of PwC UK, wrote in today’s Times: “The UK’s positive standing highlights what matters most to global business leaders.

“The EU trade deal drew to a close much of the uncertainty around Brexit. It’s hard to overestimate the importance of political certainty and stability when it comes to CEO decision making.”

PwC surveyed 5,050 chief executives from 100 countries in January and February. Half of the bosses ran businesses with annual revenues of more than $1bn and 60 per cent were private.

This year’s PwC Global CEO survey found that 11 per cent of bosses worldwide chose the UK as a top three growth target, up from 9 per cent in autumn 2019 when the survey was last conducted.

The rebound in Britain’s fortunes confounds gloomy predictions in previous PwC surveys about its status after Brexit.

Chinese executives were particularly interested in Britain, with 13 per cent putting it in their top three investment targets, compared with 3 per cent in 2019. A quarter of India’s bosses put the UK in the top three, up from 9.5 per cent in 2019. Interest in Britain as a growth prospect also increased in Canada and New Zealand.

PwC found that confidence was rebounding quickly. In autumn 2019, just 26 per cent of UK chief executives were very confident their business’s revenue prospects would improve. This year, the figure was 40 per cent.

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“Furthermore, 89 per cent are confident their revenue prospects will improve to some extent over the next 12 months. Over a three-year horizon this confidence increases further,” PwC said.

Britain’s prospects as coronavirus recedes are judged to be better than elsewhere. Although bosses across the world said they remained concerned about the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic, the vast majority expect the global economy to improve.

In the UK, 26 per cent of bosses expected “great” improvement but only 15 per cent of global chiefs said the same. UK bosses were also more optimistic about jobs, with 56 per cent expecting their headcount to grow this year against 44 per cent of global executives.

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