WPP to Exit UK for More Mellow Tax Regime

29 September 2008

LONDON: "Patriotism," said Nurse Edith Cavell as she faced a World War One firing squad, "is not enough." A sentiment shared by Sir Martin Sorrell (pictured), ceo of WPP Group, who will announce later this week that the world's second largest marketing services conglomerate is to move its headquarters beyond UK shores in search of a kinder tax regime.

WPP is "widely expected" to emulate other commercial patriots by switching its tax domicile to Ireland, thereby presenting the government of the Emerald with a golden shamrock that will partially alleviate its pain at being the first Eurozone member nation to stumble into recession.

WPP's expected move is due to an upcoming change in the UK's tax regime based on a company's overseas earnings.

WPP last year paid £204 million ($375.36m; €257.16m) in taxes, and Sorrell claims the new rules will add "tens of millions" to its UK tax bill. A move across the Irish Sea would save the firm between £60m-£80m annually.

However, some unkind souls are suggesting that the mooted move is an archetypal Sorrell ploy to wring concessions from a twitching government.

  • Meantime, Sir Martin has matters other than taxation on his mind. Taylor Nelson Sofres' investors, it seems, are not overly impressed with the generosity of his $2.2 billion purchase offer.

    Only one third of TNS shareholders are inclined to part with their holdings, reports Advertising Age, forcing Sorrell to extend his bid deadline for a second time.

    The latest target date is next Friday 3 October.

  • Data sourced from Telegraph.co.uk and AdAge.com; additional content by WARC staff