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Brexit offers nothing good for the pound: KPMG

The pound will remain volatile amid uncertainty over when the U.K. will leave the European Union (EU), the U.K. chairman at KPMG told CNBC on Friday.

"There's nothing sort of implicitly good for the pound at the moment, and there's volatility," Simon Collins said on CNBC's "The Rundown."

"What we're telling our clients who are sterling denominated, at the moment, is we think sterling is a little bit undervalued, but don't expect it to stop being volatile anytime soon."

In the wake of the U.K.'s June 23 referendum vote to exit the EU, the pound tumbled from as high as $1.5018 to as low as $1.1450 earlier this month, Reuters data showed. That marked sterling's lowest level since 1985, when the pound neared parity with the U.S. dollar amid an acrimonious miners' strike in the U.K.

At 10:21 a.m. HK/SIN, the pound was fetching $1.2238.

Collins noted that the uncertainty was heightened by the lack of Brexit negotiations as of yet.


At an EU summit on Thursday, France's President Francois Hollande told U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May to expect tough negotiations, with multiple EU leaders saying that they wouldn't begin negotiations until Article 50 was invoked, Reuters reported.

May has said she plans to formally notify the EU on Brexit at the end of March, Reuters reported.

"Until then, everybody's positioning, but nobody can negotiate," Collins said.

That's left companies engaging in "sensible contingency planning," amid an uncertain environment that may drag on for years, he said, pointing to a survey of 100 CEOs that KPMG published last month.

"Two-thirds of them said they were very confident about the U.K.'s prospects and they were contemplating M&A, joint ventures and alliances," Collins noted. "But three-quarters of them also said that as part of sensible contingency planning, of course, they were looking at potential escape routes, whether in terms of some operations relocating, or indeed, in some instances headquarters relocation."

One U.K. business told CNBC that it would be watching Brexit negotiations closely as it plans its strategy.

Tai Alegbe, a founder of U.K. online specialist wine marketplace Baacco, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Friday that the referendum had impacted its sales in the U.K.

Alegbe noted that he expected merchants that his company works with would begin making larger orders to compensate for increased import and distribution costs in the wake of the pound's drop.

Looking ahead, he noted that his company hopes to expand to new markets, including within Asia, within the next year, but he added that the final decision will depend on the agreements that the U.K. government negotiates.



Christopher Furlong | Getty Images

Others noted the uncertainty over Brexit wasn't likely to ease anytime soon.

"This is an extremely complex negotiation," Antonio Fatas, professor of economics at Insead, told CNBC's "Street Signs" on Friday, noting that the roadmap was far from clear.

"After [the Brexit referendum in June] there was no clear path of where the U.K. wanted to go," he said. "I think it was a clear message, 'this is what we don't want,' but it was not clear among the voters, it was not clear among the government, this is what we want to replace it. And now they're trying to figure out what that is, but what that is requires the European partners to agree."

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