UK News

Financial speculators trying to profit from result of EU referendum

Researchers say the pound could fall between 15 per cent and 20 per cent against the dollar if Britain votes to leave the EU
Ben Woods, Press Association Chief City Correspondent

HEDGE funds and investment banks are looking to profit from the result of the EU referendum by commissioning private exit polls and then betting on the price of sterling.

Heavyweight financial institutions have approached pollsters as they look to be the first to reap the rewards from a swing in the value of the pound triggered by the result on June 24.

The firms are looking to take advantage of electoral law, which allows exit polls on the day of the referendum, but forbids them being published before the polls close at 10pm.

Ben Page, chief executive of Ipsos MORI, said: "Client confidentiality prevents us from giving details of which companies have approached us to undertake work for them.

"That said, there's certainly been increased interest in our own EU referendum polling, particularly as the referendum gets ever closer and our most recent figures appeared to affect the currency markets."

The pound fell below $1.40 for the first time in nearly seven years in February, as a report from researchers at HSBC warned that sterling could see its value plummet by a fifth if the UK votes for Brexit.

It said the pound may fall between 15 per cent and 20 per cent against the dollar, while UK economic growth could also drop 1.5 percentage points if Britain decides to leave the European Union.

Since then, sterling has recovered strength after seeing the Remain camp boosted by comments from the Bank of England and the Institute of Fiscal Studies, which have both pointed to the negative impact of Brexit on the UK economy.

Sterling also surged 0.9 per cent against the dollar to $1.462 on Tuesday last week, after the Daily Telegraph said its survey of 800 people by ORB International gave the pro-EU side a 13-point lead - by 55 per cent to 42 per cent - among those certain to vote.

However, the latest poll by ORB international for the Daily Telegraph shows the 13 point lead has now been cut to a five point gap, with Leave now holding 46 per cent of the vote share and Remain on 51 per cent.

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