MPs react angrily as front-runner to buy Morrisons admits he will use Cayman shell company to run the grocer
MPs reacted angrily yesterday after the frontrunner to buy Morrisons admitted he would use a shell company in the Cayman Islands to run the supermarket.
Clayton, Dubilier and Rice (CD&R) said they would use an entity called Market21 GP Holdings in the Caribbean as it disclosed to investors full details of its plans for the Bradford-based grocer.
The company is currently in the lead with a £ 7bn bid as it heads into a timed auction against rival private equity firm Fortress next month, ending a four-month battle.
Forerunner: Clayton, Dubilier and Rice are currently in the lead with a £ 7bn bid for Morrisons supermarket
But lawmakers said it is “misleading the belief” that another large supermarket could be run through a tax haven, and called on the government to tighten the rules on foreign takeovers. Last year, ownership of Asda moved to Jersey’s tax haven after it was taken over by the Issa brothers and TDR Capital.
Tory MP Kevin Hollinrake said he would write to former Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy, who heads the CD&R offering, to get assurances the company will pay taxes in the UK.
Margaret Hodge, Labor MP and anti-tax evasion activist, said: “This suggests that one of our biggest supermarkets may soon be bought by a private equity firm using tax havens. ”
Darren Jones, chairman of the MPs ‘business committee, added:’ The idea that private equity could just break in, buy UK companies and move them overseas to reduce the amount of taxes they pay , without any rules or regulatory intervention, is just folly and an insult to UK taxpayers.
CD&R said the entity that will own Morrisons, Market Bidco, will be registered and incorporated in the UK, adding: “Morrisons will remain UK registered, headquartered in Bradford and will continue to pay UK tax. ”