Vodafone Verizon

The news of the disposal by Vodafone of its Verizon holdings for $130bn should be a cause for celebration. A British company has finally made a successful US investment. A welcome contrast to the long history of failed business acquisitions and embarrassing withdrawals by corporate UK from the US.

So why are the headlines not lauding Vodafone and trumpeting this success? After all, isn't the purpose of business to provide goods or services, turn a profit and use this to fuel future investment and employment and growth opportunities.

It appears the fact the UK isn't entitled to tax the gain may prove controversial. Given Vodafone's holding company is in the Netherlands, the fact that the UK has no entitlement to money made in the US by an international company is a detail which seems to have been lost in the mix.

Even if this hadn't been the case the gain would have been exempt due to a 2002 Finance Act relief introduced by Gordon Brown.

What will happen to the cash?

It will likely be reinvested by Vodafone, and the income it generates will be taxed and the jobs it creates will generate employment taxes. If some is paid back to shareholders they will pay tax on their returns when they investment the money. The fact the capital hasn't been taxed means there is more money available for investment, a positive aspect of this kind of transaction that is often overlooked.

Given there will be differing views on the tax treatment, this is another example to put on the OECD G20 list when they look at revising the global tax rules for multi-national corporates.

Meanwhile, well done Vodafone, a successful international company creating profits, jobs and growth, whilst facilitating development of the wider economy through investment in communications and digital, and it appears a canny investor to boot.

 

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