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Shionogi planning HQ move from UK

Brexit understood to be main reason for switch

Shionogi

Japanese drugmaker Shionogi will transfer its European headquarters from the UK to the Netherlands as a consequence of the Brexit, according to the Financial Times.

Shionogi isn’t commenting on the report, but the newspaper says that people briefed on the decision have indicated its intention is to merge its UK operation with a Dutch subsidiary as part of the transfer process. The Japanese company opened its UK headquarters in 2012, saying at the time that the UK was its most important European market.

The FT says that there won’t be a big transfer of staff from the UK to the Netherlands, but will see the “substantial financial dividends” of housing the headquarters shifted from London to the new location.

If confirmed, the decision adds to a growing list of companies who have already opted to relocate from the UK in the last year or so – including Unilever, Dyson, Easyjet, Sony and Panasonic – with Japanese companies featuring prominently among those trying to insulate themselves from the Brexit disruption.

There is an even longer list of firms who have suggested they may depart (e.g. Airbus and Muji), have transferred jobs out of the UK (e.g. HSBC and Goldman Sachs) or announced reductions in UK-based production (e.g. Honda and Toyota).

While some of these have insist that Brexit isn’t the reason for their decision, it is unfeasible that the ongoing uncertainty about the UK’s future relationship with the EU27 has not had a big role to play in their deliberations.

The FT suggests that for tax reasons other Japanese companies may follow the same route as Shionogi as the approach taken by the company is viewed as a domestic merger, with reduced tax liability compared to a cross-border transaction.

Meanwhile, a report from think tank New Financial released today suggests that financial firms are moving around $1.2trn in assets and funds from the UK to the EU, with Dublin, Luxembourg, Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam the main beneficiaries.

“The political uncertainty since the referendum and failure to reach a deal has forced firms to prepare for the worst and put their contingency plans into action,” says the think tank. “Much of the damage has already been done and for many firms, Brexit happened sometime last year.”

The news comes on the eve of yet another ‘meaningful vote’ on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal, with talks between the UK and European Commission seemingly still deadlocked over the Irish border issue.

Article by
Phil Taylor

11th March 2019

From: Healthcare

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