"AB InBev considers moving main office to England"

"AB InBev considers moving main office to England"

According to the British paper The Telegraph, AB InBev is considering moving its main office from Belgium to the United Kingdom. This way, the largest shareholders would be able to escape double taxes on future dividends.

Fiscal motivation

AB InBev confirmed last week that it wants to table a bid for South African SAB Miller, the world's second largest brewer. The new beer giant would instantly represent a third of worldwide beer sales. SAB Miller's major shareholders - American cigarette manufacturer Altria (Marlboro) and Colombian brewery family Santo Domingo - are willing to talk, but prefer stock to cash in order to avoid sizeable capital gains tax.

 

AB InBev's official main office is still in Louvain, which is fiscally not an ideal place as Belgium also taxes foreign shareholders for their dividends. That would mean that these shareholders would have to pay twice, once in Belgium and once in their home country. A move to London would be more interesting as the United States and the United Kingdom have an agreement that says investors can only be taxed once on paid dividends (in their homeland).

 

Both parties have until 14 October to formally announce a bid or to call off the deal and only then will it become clear whether Belgium will have to say goodbye to the main office of its biggest company.

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