WPP's return to UK a boost for Osborne


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The Independent Online

The advertising giant WPP has confirmed it is moving its tax base from Ireland back to the UK in a long-awaited decision that will be a boost for the Chancellor, George Osborne.

Its chief executive, Sir Martin Sorrell, first said WPP would return last year, but the group's board has only given approval now, after the UK Government finally enacted legislation to ease tax on foreign profits.

Sir Martin said the move to Dublin in 2008 had made little difference to profits and insisted it was not because of Ireland's low corporation rate.

Rather, he said the issue was that Gordon Brown's government was threatening to tax foreign profits earned overseas, even if they were not "remitted", or sent back, to the UK.

Mr Osborne has given "more certainty in relation to corporation tax policy", Sir Martin said.

WPP, the world's biggest ad group, which owns agencies such as Ogilvy & Mather and AKQA, admitted second-quarter revenues grew more slowly than expected at 3.2 per cent on a like-for-like basis. That was behind the 4 per cent rate in the first quarter and Sir Martin has cut his annual growth forecast to 3.5 per cent. Its shares fell 13p to 818.5p.

He added "it's not for me to say" what happens to his pay, following a 60 per cent shareholder revolt over his £13m package, or whether there might be a board shake-up.

The group's half-year profits were up by 7 per cent at £358m on revenue of £4.97bn.