Swiss engineering giant ABB has revealed a 56% year-on-year fall in orders from UK clients in the third quarter, which it is blaming on the UK’s vote to leave the EU on 23 June. The crash led to a 14% group-wide fall in orders, to $7.5bn.
Ulrich Spiesshofer, the chief executive of ABB, said the figures had been distorted by a spike in UK orders in the third quarter of 2015, however a 20% fall in orders of $15m or less pointed to a "massive dampening" in investment in the wake of the Brexit referendum.
He added that the US presidential race was also responsible for companies’ delaying investment decisions.
Spiesshofer, who was speaking to analysts and reporters on a conference call, also warned that there was little prospect of the situation improving in the immediate future.
"We face continued adverse market conditions. That will not go away quickly," he said, reports Reuters.
Shares in the Zurich-based company fell 7% on news of the order slump.
Profit for the quarter was $568m, down from $577m a year earlier but better than the forecast of $555m.
The company also named Timo Ihamuotila, Nokia’s chief finance officer, as its finance head, replacing Erik Elzvik, who is leaving in April after more than three decades to "pursue career opportunities outside of ABB".
Ihamuotila has a brief to help Spiesshofer drive the company’s Ability programme, an initiative launched last month that is intended to bring together its digital products and services.
ABB specialises in advanced power and automation systems. It employs some 135,000 employees in more than 100 countries.
Image: ABB’s chief executive passes on the bad news (Twitter)