Thursday 8 December 2016

Microsoft plays wait and see on UK's post-Brexit migration stance

Published 04/10/2016 | 02:30

Satya Nadella, ceo, Microsoft, speaks to attendees at the Microsoft Ireland Tech Gathering on October 3, 2016. Photo: Naoise Culhane
Satya Nadella, ceo, Microsoft, speaks to attendees at the Microsoft Ireland Tech Gathering on October 3, 2016. Photo: Naoise Culhane

The president and chief legal counsel of Microsoft says that the company won't become "concerned" about a post-Brexit UK until the country's immigration policy becomes clearer.

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Speaking to the Irish Independent, Brad Smith said that "the single most important factor will be the ability to bring some of the world's most important talent to work in the United Kingdom".

Mr Smith said that it's "too early to be concerned and it's too early to be sanguine" about British Prime Minister Theresa May's stated intention to pull the UK out of the European Single Market and tighten immigration.

"We'll have to adapt," he said, referring to UK company facilities that employ thousands of people.

"I hope that we'll continue to be able to bring to the UK talent from across Europe and from around the world."

Tech companies have expressed concern about a tightening up of immigration laws in the UK, warning that it could affect their investment plans there.

Brad Smith, president of Microsoft
Brad Smith, president of Microsoft

On Sunday, Ms May outlined a tough stance on immigration after her country's upcoming withdrawal from the European Union.

"We have voted to leave the European Union and become a fully independent, sovereign country," she said.

"We will do what independent, sovereign countries do. We will decide for ourselves how we control immigration. And we will be free to pass our own laws."

Mr Smith also said that Microsoft won't stop arch-competitor Salesforce from getting data from its €23bn acquisition, LinkedIn, as part of an unfair power play. He dismissed recent accusations by Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff that Microsoft would use its new ownership of LinkedIn to cut off data to Salesforce.

"It is not something that we have any intention of doing," he said.

"The LinkedIn data is public today and we want to make that data useful in lots of new ways."

Last week, Salesforce lodged a formal complaint with the European Union about potential anti-competitive consequences arising from Microsoft's €23bn takeover of LinkedIn.

But Mr Smith said Microsoft is currently undergoing "good and healthy" discussions with EU competition authorities about the acquisition.

"The European Commission has naturally been reviewing with us the whole range of issues," he said.

"They ask lots of questions as they always do and as they always should. I think they have good questions. I think we have good and clear answers, so from my perspective this is an acquisition that is going to promote competition."

Mr Smith was in Dublin yesterday with Microsoft chief executive officer Satya Nadella as part of a four-day European tour.

Irish Independent

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