The consensus amongst business leaders attending an excellent Brexit Briefing here in Pittsburgh on April 12th last, was that US Companies’ preparation plans to deal with the fallout of Brexit are at best woefully inadequate or non-existent. According to the esteemed panel organized by Britsburgh, hosted by K&L Gates and sponsored by KPMG and the Rand Corporation, Pittsburgh companies are not alone. The entire US was categorised as wholly unprepared! Missed the presentation? No matter we recorded it: Introductions and welcome: VIDEO Ambassador Charles Reis, Rand Corporation on Global perspectives and implications of Brexit: VIDEO Piers Coleman, K&L Gates on a view from the Houses of Parliament: VIDEO Chris Roberts, KPMG on practical business, tax and trade implication and planning opportunities for Brexit: VIDEO Panel discussion and Q&A: VIDEO Of course, there are exceptions, as we heard from David Leadbetter, Head of Legal UK at NEP Group, Inc., but our pole of the audience indicated that only 2 of the many companies attending had any sort of plan. Indeed, many companies with significant UK subsidiaries may consider that it is impossible to plan until the UK parliament comes up with an agreement on the exit strategy. Sadly, for many companies that will just be too late. The EU has agreed to an extension until October 31st for the UK to exit the EU with or without a plan. We say use this time wisely to make an assessment of the risks to your business and come up with a plan to deal with the post-Brexit world today. Charlie Schliebs, Managing Director, Stone Pier Capital Advisors, LP, attended the briefing and made the following observations:
On Friday, April 12, a topic given far too little attention in American company boardrooms and C-suites was discussed in depth in downtown Pittsburgh. At some briefings on important topics, the speakers are fine, but nothing overwhelming; however, the panelists at this Brexit Conference were all off the charts in terms of the depth of their knowledge and their ability to impart it to the audience, in both an informative and even entertaining fashion. The panel of speakers, well moderated by K&L Gates partner John Sylvester, were Ambassador Charlie Ries, now at RAND Corporation (Vice President); Piers Coleman, a London-based partner at K&L Gates, and Chris Roberts, a British international tax partner at KPMG now resident in New York City and head of UK-US Corridor matters.
If your company has any business of a material nature in the UK and the EU, you had better make sure immediately that you are covering your bases or it may be too late (and in some cases, it may already be too late to plan and implement necessary actions). Plus, you may have your own plan, but what about your suppliers and logistics partners? It gets really complicated depending on what the UK and the EU do, and what your business activities are, and just hoping it works out is not much of a plan. Both KPMG and K&L Gates have audit and impact assessment tools to help companies quickly get a grip on this unfolding mess, and I would urge every company with UK and EU business to take advantage of either program or both. If you are a responsible corporate executive in a company with UK/EU business, I would do it Monday morning.
Download the slides from the briefing (attached) For more information on Brexit implications please contact local KPMG Pittsburgh based Jonathan Walls and Robert Charlesworth and/or visit KPMG's Brexit page. For legal implications visit K&L Gates' Brexit Advisory page. About the author: Robert Charlesworth is Chair of Britsburgh (see our Who We Are page). Robert's day job is as a Deal Advisory Director at KPMG in Pittsburgh, where he advises and assists controller groups with complex accounting and buy and sell side transactions. He is a Brit and therefore is very passionate about Brexit and its long term implications for the UK. He strives to promote connections between the Pittsburgh region and the UK.