WHEN it comes to companies and their passports, there is a flutter of activity in the air—and a reek of hypocrisy. This month Qualcomm, an American-domiciled tech giant which does 65% of its business in China, booked most of its profits last year in Singapore, and pays little tax at home, successfully lobbied the Trump administration to block a hostile takeover on the ground that its independence was vital to ensure American strategic supremacy over China. The predator was Broadcom. It is listed in America but domiciled in Singapore, where it gets tax perks. On November 2nd, four days before its bid, it announced a burning desire to shift its legal base to the home of the brave.
In Europe, Unilever, which a year ago demanded that the British authorities help it fend off an unwelcome takeover by Kraft Heinz because it was a national treasure, is shifting its sole base to the Netherlands (at present it is split between London and Rotterdam). The consumer-goods firm says it wants to simplify its...Continue reading