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European companies spent billions preparing for the euro when it was introduced in 2000 by 11 countries. Contingency planning for an unraveling of the currency involves cutting investment, moving money to Germany, transferring headquarters to northern Europe from southern, and even going out of business, according to interviews with more than 20 executives.
“How do you control an explosion in a controlled way?” Fiat SpA (F) Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne told reporters in Brussels on Dec. 2. “That’s a contradiction in terms. This will be an implosion of some size with potentially disastrous consequences.”
Companies switched gears from preparing for a possible exit by Greece to some sort of currency breakdown after Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government collapsed and 10-year Italian bond yields rose past 7 percent in November.
“A couple of weeks ago I would never have thought about having conversations on the probability of the euro disappearing, but now there is more speculation on such a scenario,” Wolters Kluwer NV (WKL) CEO Nancy McKinstry said in a Nov. 29 interview at the company’s headquarters outside Amsterdam.