Informa has announced plans to move its tax domicile back to Britain after five years in Switzerland — news that will help Chancellor George Osborne’s efforts to make the UK more tax-friendly.
The owner of insurance bible Lloyd’s List moved its tax base to Zug in 2009 when it was one of a string of companies including WPP, Wolseley and Shire which fled the UK during Gordon Brown’s premiership.
The FTSE 250 firm’s return is significant because it follows advertising giant WPP’s decision to move back from Dublin a year ago.
Osborne has slashed tax rates on controlled foreign companies (CFCs) — a key issue that had previously prompted companies to flee the UK — and he has also cut corporation tax.
Informa expects “no material change in reported tax rates or taxation paid as a result of the change in domicile”, suggesting the UK now compares well with Switzerland — at least when it comes to tax on foreign earnings. The group had previously said it had cut its tax bill, following the move to Switzerland.
Informa’s return comes as its long-serving chief executive, Peter Rigby, prepares to hand over the reins to Stephen Carter, a non-executive director, next year.
Lord Carter, a former public servant who was chief adviser to Brown in No 10 and head of media regulator Ofcom, had been facing the awkward prospect of heading a British company that was based overseas for tax purposes.
Informa said the new chief executive was not a reason for the tax change and the board felt the timing was right. Rigby promised in 2011: “When the CFC situation is properly resolved, if the right thing is to return to the UK, we will return to the UK.”
The group signalled in the past that the Swiss move was not painless, causing staff upheaval even though it saved on tax.