ATO and Singtel in Court over Intra-company Financing Arrangement

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In 2001, Singtel, through its wholly owned Australian subsidiary, Singapore Telecom Australia Investments Pty Limited (Singtel Au), acquired the majority of the shares in Cable & Wireless Optus for $17.2 billion.

The tax consequences of this acqusition was decided by the Federal Court in Cable & Wireless Australia & Pacific Holding BV (in liquiatie) v Commissioner of Taxation [2017] FCAFC 71. Cable & Wireless argued that part of the price paid under a share buy-back was not dividends and that withholding tax should therefor be refunded. The ATO and the Court disagreed.

ATO and Singtel is now in a new dispute  – this time over tax consequences associated with the intra-group financing of the takeover. This case was heard in the Federal Court in August 2021.

At issue is a tax assessments for FY 2011, 2012 and 2013 resulting in additional taxes in an amount $268 million. In the assessment interest deductions claimed in Australia on notes issued under a Loan Note Issuance Agreement (LNIA) has been disallowed by the ATO.

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