Industrial group threatens to abandon UK

Industrial group Smiths today signalled that it may become the latest company to join the tax exodus from the UK.

The firm said that while there was "no current intention" to move, it was "closely monitoring" possible changes to UK tax laws due to the high profits it makes overseas following last year's sale of Smiths Aerospace.

Pharmaceuticals firm Shire and publisher United Business Media have already announced plans to move, with a host of others, such as advertising giant WPP, also considering their position amid fears over a Treasury tax grab on foreign profits.

Smiths - which generates 94% of its revenues overseas - said the future location of its corporate centre was subject to a review which will be completed in time to allow any changes by the end of this year.

The company's warning came as it unveiled a corporate restructuring which will see around 65 jobs cut across the group, of which 40 will go in the UK.

Smiths is cutting a management layer out of its speciality engineering operation, which makes seals and other equipment for the oil and gas sector, as well as communications components for aircraft.

It is also shifting the management of its detection business from London to Watford, while Smiths' medical arm, which makes products such as drips and ventilation, will be run from its US base in Minnesota.

Chief executive Philip Bowman said: "Building the business will be more effectively achieved through a focused divisional structure.

"The corporate centre will therefore be dedicated to a small number of core functions where it can add real value to our portfolio of businesses."

The company has 22,000 staff worldwide, with 2,900 UK staff at sites including Watford in Hertfordshire, Slough, Hythe in Kent, Glasgow and Dundee.

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