Walgreens May Move to Europe for Tax Break

April 22, 2014

Walgreens' shareholders are pushing the company to move overseas, says the Fiscal Times.

Goldman Sachs Investment Partners and several hedge funds together own 5 percent of Walgreens' stock, and they're trying to convince the company to become domiciled overseas in order to reduce its U.S. tax burden. To do this, the company would need for one-fifth of its stock to be held by foreign investors.

  • In 2012, Walgreens purchased half of the Swiss company Alliance Boots; Boots intends to purchase the rest of the company in 2015.
  • Boots' tax rate, according to financial services firm UBS, would be just 20 percent, thanks to its Swiss residence.
  • But Walgreens' U.S. tax rate? 37.5 percent.
  • By redomiciling abroad, Walgreens could increase its earnings per share by a whopping 75 percent.

Global health care deals have surged recently, with $44 billion in deals already in 2014. Proposals by the U.S. Treasury to require companies who want to domicile elsewhere to be 50 percent foreign-owned, rather than 20 percent, have led to a flurry of companies eager to take advantage of the current rules before the proposals kick in.

According to reports, Walgreens is hesitant to move for fear of political backlash. But most American consumers will purchase on price and availability, not based on the domicile of the makers of their products.

Source: John Grgurich, "Walgreens Moving to Europe for a Tax Break? It's the American Way," Fiscal Times, April 16, 2014.

 

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