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"Any trader with inside information on what the outcome of the referendum might be could make a lot of money." (Photo: PA)

Brexit or Bremain? No Matter the Outcome, Hedge Funds Stand to Profit

Hedge funds are using private exit pollsters to capitalize on outcome of referendum vote before public finds out the result

Nika Knight

As UK voters head to the polls on Thursday to say whether Britain should leave or remain in the European Union, markets are tumultuous as investors balk with fears that the EU's second-largest economy will depart the union.

"Far-right nationalists and neoliberal capitalists will survive the demise of institutions like the EU."
—John Feffer, Foreign Policy in Focus

Yet a select class of über-wealthy capitalists are excitedly looking to pounce on the market no matter the outcome—using polling information they've bought and paid for, unavailable to the general public.

"Hedge-fund managers are sensing opportunity," as Bloomberg observes. "After enduring the worst first-quarter returns since the start of the financial crisis, the prospect of Britain voting to leave the European Union is creating the market turmoil that can make them money."

Taking advantage of UK election law that forbids exit polling data from being published before 10pm on the day of an election—to prevent exit polls from influencing votes—hedge funds are paying for private polling companies to perform exit polls throughout the country, so they'll be able to bet on the outcome before the general public learns of it.

"As we have seen, when polls have been published suggesting that Leave might win, the pound has fallen on the currency markets," explains the Independent. "Any trader with inside information on what the outcome of the referendum might be could, therefore, make a lot of money."

One investment advisor predicts that hedge funds may be able to confidently predict the outcome of the vote—and therefore manipulate the market to their advantage—a full two hours before the rest of the public finds out the result of the referendum.

Northern Ireland's Belfast Telegraph reports:

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.

[...] Kathleen Brooks, research director of City Index, said: "Although the Remain camp has managed to stem the recent wave of support for the Brexiteers, the outcome is still very much uncertain."

"There is no official exit poll due on Thursday night, however, rumour has it that some large hedge funds have organised their own unofficial exit polls, so expect lots of volatility throughout the night as we all try to cut through the fog of the vote count to find out who will emerge victorious."

According to the Belfast Telegraph, David Neuhauser, managing director of activist hedge fund Livermore Partners, told Bloomberg TV that if there is "a short run, there is a lot of dislocation, valuations are blowing down and there is some really unique companies with some really unique assets, we want to buy situations just like that for sure."

Indeed, as John Feffer writes in Foreign Policy in Focus, "far-right nationalists and neoliberal capitalists will survive the demise of institutions like the EU."

But for those less concerned with profit, and more concerned with human rights, refugee protections, trade reform, and cross-border solidarity—such as the recently murdered anti-Brexit MP Jo Cox—Feffer wonders if Britain severing ties with the EU might spell the demise of that inclusive vision for Europe.

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