Ineos Reiterates UK Return Plans

Petrochemicals giant Ineos will move its headquarters back to the UK within three years, chairman Jim Ratcliffe has told the Daily Mail, the same British tabloid to which he last initially confided the intention to return, in July 2015.

A building in London’s elegant Knightsbridge section will serve as headquarters, Ratcliffe told the newspaper. The company currently employs 4,000 people across seven UK sites, including the mammoth Grangemouth refinery and petrochemicals complex in Scotland.

The chairman also has hinted at further UK acquisitions.

Ineos pulled up its UK stakes and moved to Switzerland in 2010 after a disagreement with then-prime minister, Gordon Brown, over taxes. At the time the company declared that the move to Rolle, near Geneva, would save it more than £300 million in taxes over four years.

Badly battered by the economic crisis, which caught it in the middle of an expansion phase, Ineos was unhappy with the Labour government’s decision not to allow it to defer a £350 million VAT payment.

In moving back, Ratcliffe may be banking on the business-friendly government of current Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron being more conciliatory, especially as the poylolefins and olefins gas specialist has begun investing heavily in the shale gas industry, where Cameron and chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, are priming the UK to be a major player.

On Mar 23, Ineos’ first shipment of liquefied shale arrived at its Rafnes terminal in Norway, and the first shipment is due to arrive at Grangemouth later this year.

According to recently published figures, UK corporate taxes have fallen from 28% at the time of the Ineos move to 20% and are planned to drop further to around 17%.

In an article in the London newspaper The Telegraph, Ratcliffe called on the government to reduce corporate taxes to a single-digit rate in certain circumstances, to boost manufacturing. One of the chairman’s pet topics is the UK’s lagging investment in heavy industry, for example in comparison with Germany.

Ratcliffe has also come out in favor of Britain’s quitting the EU.

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