The drinks giant Diageo yesterday became the latest large British company to say it is considering leaving the UK for tax purposes.
Paul Walsh, the chief executive of Diageo, said the maker of Guinness and Baileys Irish Cream had no current plans to relocate its global headquarters away from London but warned it would have to reassess its options if the system became less favourable at a corporate or individual level.
“We are a global company. We enjoy being headquartered in London, but if the tax regime here in the UK became so egregious, either for corporates or individuals, we would have no option but to look at other alternatives,” he said in an interview on BBC World Service.
Diageo employs around 400 staff at four sites in Northern Ireland.
His comments follow a similar warning from Paul Polman, the chief executive of Unilever, yesterday. He argued that multinational firms have choices about where to locate research and manufacturing facilities, as well as where to base senior management, and warned that new regulation and tax burdens would be ‘unfortunate’ for the UK.
Over the past two years, a number of firms have either moved, or announced plans to shift base to the Republic for tax reasons.
This week, the investment broker Hargreaves Lansdown said it was more than tripling its interim dividend before the end of the tax year to give a fillip to its shareholders who face a 10% rise in the top rate of income tax to 50% from April.