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Brexit could cut wages by 30% over next two decades, says private equity boss Guy Hands

Sarah Syed, Guy Johnson

One of the most high profile names in finance has said that Brexit is going to lead to dramatic economic upheaval which will be bad for most people but good for his multi billion-pound private equity firm.

Guy Hands, chairman of Terra Firma, one of Europe's largest private equity groups, warned that the country will have to get rid of much of its social safety net and may see a 30 per cent decline in wages in real terms in the next 20 years to enable it to compete outside of Europe.

Debt will command higher interest rates as more risk is ascribed to an independent UK, and immigrants from Europe will be replaced with workers from the Indian subcontinent and Africa, who may be willing to accept “substantially” lower pay, he said.

Still, ultimately, the exit will be a good thing for the economy, Hands said.

“The slightly sad thing is the people who voted for Brexit aren’t the people who are going to have to make these sacrifices,” Hands said. “That’s not unusual for big, political decisions when people don’t fully analyse what the economic consequences are.”

Prime Minister Theresa May said this month that the country would leave the European Union’s single market, pursuing a so-called hard Brexit and severing the bloc’s influence over the UK’s immigration and laws. She’s aiming to preserve tariff-free trade between Britain and the continent while securing the liberty to make new deals with other countries.

Brexit will also present opportunities for buyout funds, Hands said. As interest rates go up, some businesses will go bankrupt, leading to buying opportunities, he said.

“Sadly, and this is always one of the strange things about business, I think it’s probably a bad thing for the majority of people and bad for the country, but I think, for my business, it’s probably going to be good,” he said.

Bloomberg