More British blue chips view Ireland

MORE British-based firms have joined the list of companies considering a move to Ireland for tax purposes.

The chief executive of Amlin, the biggest British-listed Lloyd’s insurer, told the Financial Times that if changes were made to how foreign profits were taxed this would be likely to tip the balance against it staying in Britain.

Charles Philipps added Amlin would rather stay in Britain from a management perspective but said it was examining other jurisdictions such as Ireland, Switzerland and Bermuda.

“The more of UK plc that ups sticks and goes to jurisdictions which are more tax favourable, the more pressure put on companies left here to follow suit. It will become a shareholder pressure issue,” Mr Philipps said.

Aberdeen Asset Management has also said it is considering leaving Britain as its headquarters for tax reasons. The comments follow moves by Shire and United Business Media to relocate their tax domiciles to Ireland. Other companies have indicated they would follow.

Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP Group, the world’s second-largest advertising group, said his company was considering moving its tax domicile overseas, while David Illingworth, chief executive of medical equipment maker, Smith & Nephew, said it was keeping its tax domicile under review.

Ken Hanna, finance director of Cadbury said though it would be difficult for such a company to leave Britain it was “something we are watching closely”.

These moves have put pressure on the British Treasury which says it could never compete with tax havens like Ireland. The IDA said yesterday it will not specifically set out to target these British companies that are looking to move to Ireland but said it goes all out to try and attract companies here.

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