27th May 2024
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Pedro Sánchez slams multinational Ferrovial’s move to the Netherlands

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez on Friday criticised a plan by construction giant Ferrovial to move its headquarters to the Netherlands, accusing it of not wanting to pay its fair share of taxes.

The decision by Ferrovial, one of Spain’s biggest companies, has triggered a political storm in Spain ahead of regional elections in May and a general election toward the end of this year.

The company said on Tuesday that the move would give it access to cheaper credit and make it more attractive to equity investors ahead of planned stock listing in the United States, and would not affect its operations in Spain or elsewhere.

But the Spanish government accuses Ferrovial of seeking to benefit from lower Dutch taxes on corporate income and dividends.

Ferrovial’s billionaire chairman, Rafael del Pino, has been critical of the coalition government between the socialist PSOE party, led by Sánchez, and the left-wing Podemos group.

‘We are talking about tax justice here,’ Sánchez said when asked about the controversy during a press conference in Helsinki with his Finnish counterpart Sanna Marin.

‘Tax justice means that those that have more must contribute more to the public treasury, paying more taxes, and that is the debate which is behind what Mr del Pino is doing.’

Sánchez’s government has angered some business leaders with a windfall tax on ‘extraordinary’ profits of major banks and energy firms, to fund increased public spending to help households and businesses cope with soaring inflation. ALSO READ: Spanish government plans 2-year wealth tax, plus tax increases for high earners in budget.

Sánchez had already criticised Ferrovial’s chairman on Wednesday, saying ‘there are extraordinarily positive examples in Spain of great businessmen who are dedicated to their country’, adding: ‘I don’t think it is the case of Mr del Pino.’

‘Without any shame, a Spanish company tells us that it is moving its head office to the Netherlands, because tax conditions there are better. We are talking about tax dumping,’ Spanish Labour Minister and second deputy prime minister, Yolanda Díaz, said.

‘Ferrovial is a very important company in our country, which has also grown thanks to huge contracts awarded by public administrations and the risk they entail,’ Díaz added, asking the company to reconsider its decision.

According to El País, Ferrovial has been awarded more than €1 billion in state contracts during the Sánchez era and €9 billion since 1991. It also has not paid corporation tax since 2020.

By contrast, Spain’s right-wing opposition has said that ‘the decisions’ of companies must be respected, with the People’s Party (PP) spokeswoman Cuca Gamarra blaming the situation on the country’s ruling party and the ‘lack of legal security’ in Spain.

According to El País, Ferrovial has been awarded more than €1 billion in state contracts during the Sánchez era and €9 billion since 1991. It also has not paid corporation tax since 2020.

Del Pino, 64, who controls around 20% of Ferrovial, is Spain’s third-richest person, with a fortune of around $4.5 billion , according to Forbes.

Founded in Madrid in 1952, Ferrovial operates London’s Heathrow airport, and its toll road division includes projects in Australia, Canada and the United States.

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