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Majority of quoted companies have headquarters abroad


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High corporate taxes in Portugal mean that the vast majority of Portuguese companies listed on the Lisbon stock market (PSI 120) have their headquarters overseas.

Amsterdam, Luxemburg and Dublin all have more attractive tax breaks and incentives for companies and their subsidiaries including banks BCP (Rotterdam and Amsterdam); Portugal Telecom (Amsterdam, Luxemburg); petrol and gas company Galp (Dublin, Luxemburg, Amsterdam); Sonae, (real estate,  tourism and industry) Amsterdam, Amstelveen, Luxemburg, and Dublin; and EDP Amsterdam and Dublin.

According to a study by newspaper Público, of Portugal’s 20 largest economic shareholding companies, 17 have company headquarters in Holland, most of them financial service sub-holdings.

Luxemburg and Ireland are the other two countries most sought after with PT, Sonae, Banif and Galp all having offices there.

Galp has also opted to choose Dublin to base its crude oil sales operation Petrogal Trading while Jéronimo Martins, Mota-Engil and Cimpor are also in Ireland.

“The financial and tax advantages of moving offices abroad to these countries are many but the obvious ones are that they pay less tax which is better for the companies and their shareholders,” says Marta Gaudêncio, a company finance legal specialist at lawyers Espanha & Associados.

In the case of Luxemburg and Holland, for example, basing their holdings abroad brings advantages in terms of exemptions or reductions in paying taxes on dividends.

Five of Portugal’s main quoted companies also have interests based in offshore islands such as the Caymen and British Virgin Islands.

Banco Espírito Santo (BES) has no less than seven companies registered in the Caymen Islands – a British territory located near Cuba and Jamaica – and are described in the bank’s annual accounts as ‘special entities’.

Banif also has six offshore vehicles while BPI hold BPI Cayman and BPI Capital Finance which issues shares.