Ineos Chief’s Monaco Move Plan Slammed
If Jim Ratcliffe’s intention is to generate publicity, negative or positive, for Ineos and himself he has succeeded in the past few days. Along with criticizing the UK’s restriction on fracking, he also slammed the EU’s “stupid” green taxes and now is making the headlines with plans to move to a new tax haven.
The Ineos chairman’s intends to relocate to Monaco, to save tax for himself and the two other shareholders, Andy Currie and John Reece. Ratcliffe owns 60% of the company. Plans for the move were announced in August 2018 but have re-entered the spotlight as details have become known.
According to the London newspaper Sunday Times, Ratcliffe and the two other men together could legally save £1 billion to £10 billion tax-free, but would leave the British Treasury at least £400 million and potentially up to £4 billion short.
It was unclear whether relocation to the tax haven would entail a restructuring of Ineos’ operations in the UK, or would affect its Swiss holding or production assets in other countries. The private company’s structure is not entirely transparent.
British accounting experts told the newspaper The Guardian that there are “numerous possibilities” for moving profits abroad to save tax. Under one scenario, Ineos divert dividends to Monaco or wrap up inter-company loans there.
Auditors PwC, who are advising the Ineos owners on the tax plan, are said to have been concerned that being involved in the project would damage their reputation, but denied that they had considered backing out.
At the height of the financial crisis in late 2010, Ineos moved from Lyndhurst, Hampshire, UK, to Rolle, Switzerland, near Geneva, after squabbles with the government over tax a denied deferral. In December 2016, the company inaugurated a new campus in London’s Knightsbridge section, which is now home to Ineos Shale and a number of other corporate functions.
The partial repatriation was received enthusiastically by the UK government, with ministers calling it “a vote of confidence in the British economy.” Ratcliffe was knighted last year for his services to business and investment, but the latest relocation plans have met with strong disapproval both in the government and the general public, with one political leader calling the move “deeply cynical.”
Anticipating criticism, Ineos told Sunday Times that it has 400 companies in 35 jurisdictions “that regularly paid dividends within the group” and that “Ineos and its owners always fully adhere to all tax legislation and consistently use external professionals to verify that all procedures are correct and compliant.”
By its own account, the company currently has more than 10 major projects in the pipeline, including both acquisitions and new builds, worth “over $1 billion million each.
A business journal in Houston, Texas, USA, said this week that Ineos is planning to expand chemical production on the US Gulf to take advantage of tax incentives, without further elaboration.
Manchester native Ratcliffe, with an estimated worth of £21 billion, currently heads the Sunday Times list of the UK’s richest persons. The newspaper estimates Ineos’ value at £35 billion.