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Tycoons sidestep CGT rules

The supermarket heir Lord Sainsbury has become the latest high profile figure to save millions of pounds by transferring shares on the eve of changes to capital gains tax brought in by the Government, it was reported last night.

The £340m shares transfer will allow him to pay capital gains at the lower rate of 10 per cent before it rises to 18 per cent this week, saving him some £27m in tax, experts said.

Lord Sainsbury's transferral follows similar moves by Sir Ken Morrison, who was last week poised to cash in on his family's £1.3bn stake in the supermarket chain, and Sir James Dyson, who had a £145m payout approved by the board and rushed through ahead of next Sunday's changes to capital gains tax.

It was claimed that Lord Sainsbury, the former science minister who is a significant donor to the Labour party, would have had to pay as much as £61.2m in tax under the new plans, but will now pay £34m.

However, the tycoon says that he will be giving the money to charity and will not personally benefit from the transfer, which was to a firm he controls.

Lord Sainsbury, who ran the Sainsbury's supermarket chain before joining the Government under Tony Blair, has an estimated family fortune of £2.1bn.