Panasonic Corp plans to move its European headquarters from Britain to the Netherlands later this year over concerns about potential tax issues related to Brexit, a company spokeswoman said yesterday.
“We will move our European headquarters to the Netherlands,” the spokeswoman said, confirming a report in the Nikkei Shimbun business daily about the Japanese electronics giant’s decision.
Panasonic Europe chief executive officer Laurent Abadie told the daily that the headquarters would move from outside London to Amsterdam in October.
The decision was sparked by fears that Japan could treat Britain as a tax haven after Brexit if London decides to lower its corporate tax rate in a bid to attract businesses, she said.
If Japan made the designation, Panasonic could face back taxes levied by Tokyo.
Abadie told the newspaper that Panasonic had been considering a move for the past 15 months, with concerns about post-Brexit barriers to the flow of people and goods also a factor in the decision to move.
Of the 20 to 30 people in the London office, about 10 to 20 employees dealing with auditing and financial operations would move, while investor relations staff would stay put, the newspaper said.
Britain is to leave the EU in March next year.
Several Japanese firms — including megabank Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc, Nomura Holdings Inc, Daiwa Securities Group Inc and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc — have said that they are planning to move their main EU bases out of London.
There are 879 Japanese companies employing 142,000 staff in Britain, including automakers Honda Motor Co and Nissan Motor Co, and Japanese companies have more than US$60 billion invested in the UK, according to the most recent statistics.
Nissan is already preparing to axe hundreds of jobs at its factory in the northeastern city of Sunderland — which produces 500,000 vehicles per year — as British sales slump.
Earlier this week, Hiroaki Nakanishi, head of Keidanren, which represents 1,000 Japanese firms, expressed his frustration in an interview with the Financial Times.
“We just can’t do anything. Everyone is seriously concerned,” Nakanishi said.
Different scenarios are being debated, ranging from reversing Brexit to plunging into Brexit without a deal, Nakanishi said.
“We’re now in a situation where we have to consider what to do in all of them,” he said.
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