Category: Financial Transactions

In transfer pricing financing transactions includes inter-company loans, treasury activity (eg. cash pooling), and guarantees within MNEs.

France vs Electricité de France, November 2022, Conseil d'État, Case No 462383 (ECLI:FR:CECHR:2022:462383.20221116)

France vs Electricité de France, November 2022, Conseil d’État, Case No 462383 (ECLI:FR:CECHR:2022:462383.20221116)

In 2009 the English company EDF Energy UK Ltd (EDFE), a wholly-owned subsidiary of SAS Electricité de France International (SAS EDFI), issued 66,285 bonds convertible into shares (OCAs) for a unit nominal value of EUR 50,000. SAS EDFI subscribed to all of these OCAs for their nominal value, i.e. a total subscription price of EUR 3,314,250,000. The OCAs had a maturity of five years, i.e. until October 16, 2014, and could be converted into new EDFE shares at the instigation of the subscriber at any time after a three-year lock-up period, i.e. from October 16, 2012. Each bond entitled the holder to receive 36,576 EDFE shares after conversion. The annual coupon for the OCAs was set at 1.085%. In this respect, SAS EDFI determined, on the basis of a panel of bond issues of independent comparables, the arm’s length rate that should be applied to ... Continue to full case
The European Commission vs Fiat Chrysler Finance Europe, November 2022, European Court of Justice, Case No C-885/19 P and C-898/19 P

The European Commission vs Fiat Chrysler Finance Europe, November 2022, European Court of Justice, Case No C-885/19 P and C-898/19 P

In 2012, the Luxembourg tax authorities issued a tax ruling in favour of Fiat Chrysler Finance Europe (‘FFT’), an undertaking in the Fiat group that provided treasury and financing services to the group companies established in Europe. The tax ruling at issue endorsed a method for determining FFT’s remuneration for these services, which enabled FFT to determine its taxable profit on a yearly basis for corporate income tax in Luxembourg. In October 2015, the Commission concluded that the tax ruling constituted State aid under Article 107 TFEU and that it was operating aid that was incompatible with the internal market. The Commission found that the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg was required to recover the unlawful and incompatible aid from FFT. FFT brought an action before the General Court for annulment of the Commission’s decision. In it’s Judgement of September 2019, the General Court dismissed the ... Continue to full case
Netherlands vs "Tobacco B.V.", October 2022, Rechtbank Noord-Holland, Case No ECLI:NL:RBNHO:2022:8936

Netherlands vs “Tobacco B.V.”, October 2022, Rechtbank Noord-Holland, Case No ECLI:NL:RBNHO:2022:8936

“Tobacco B.V.” is a Dutch company belonging to an international tobacco group. Following an audit an assessment of additional taxable income of €196,001,385, €220,624,304 and €179,896,349 for FY 2008-2010 was issued to “Tobacco B.V.”, and a penalty for non-compliance for FY 2010 of €477,624 was imposed. The dispute focused on whether the fees charged by various group companies for supplies and services had been at arm’s length. To finance their activities, the group companies issued listed bonds under the tobacco group’s so-called EMTN Programme, guaranteed by the parent company in the UK. For this, the claimant paid an annual guarantee fee to the parent company of approximately €35,000,000. Judgement of the court – the guarantee fees are not expenses originating from the “Tobacco B.V.”‘s acceptance of liability for debts of an affiliated company; – the EMTN Programme is not a credit arrangement within the meaning ... Continue to full case
New Zealand vs Frucor Suntory, September 2022, Supreme Court, Case No [2022] NZSC 113

New Zealand vs Frucor Suntory, September 2022, Supreme Court, Case No [2022] NZSC 113

Frucor Suntory (FHNZ) had deducted purported interest expenses that had arisen in the context of a tax scheme involving, among other steps, its issue of a Convertible Note to Deutsche Bank, New Zealand Branch (DBNZ), and a forward purchase of the shares DBNZ could call for under the Note by FHNZ’s Singapore based parent Danone Asia Pte Ltd (DAP). The Convertible Note had a face value of $204,421,565 and carried interest at a rate of 6.5 per cent per annum. Over its five-year life, FHNZ paid DBNZ approximately $66 million which FHNZ characterised as interest and deducted for income tax purposes. The tax authorities issued an assessment where deductions of interest expenses in the amount of $10,827,606 and $11,665,323 were disallowed in FY 2006 and 2007 under New Zealand´s general anti-avoidance rule in s BG 1 of the Income Tax Act 2004. In addition, penalties ... Continue to full case
France vs HCL Maître Pierre, September 2022, Conseil d'État, Case No. 455651 (ECLI:FR:CECHR:2022:455651.20220920)

France vs HCL Maître Pierre, September 2022, Conseil d’État, Case No. 455651 (ECLI:FR:CECHR:2022:455651.20220920)

On 1 July 2013, HCL Maître Pierre issued a ten-year bond which were convertible into shares and bore interest at a rate of 12%, the accrued amount of which was capitalised annually until the date of redemption or conversion, together with a non-conversion premium at a rate of 3%, if applicable. This loan was subscribed by its sole partner, (SAS) HGFI Saint-Martin. Following an tax audit of HCL Maître Pierre’s for the financial years ended 31 March 2012, 2013 and 2014, the tax authorities considered that the interest at the rate of 12% could only be deducted at a rate set at 2.82%. Judgement of the Supreme Court The Court dismissed the appeal of HCL Maître Pierre and upheld the assessment issued by the tax authorities. Excerpts “3. It follows from the combination of these provisions that interest relating to sums left or made available ... Continue to full case
France vs SAP France, September 2022, Conseil d'État, Case No. 461639

France vs SAP France, September 2022, Conseil d’État, Case No. 461639

SAP AG (now SAP SE) is a German multinational software corporation that develops enterprise software to manage business operations and customer relations. The company is especially known for its ERP software. SAP France, a 98% subsidiary of SA SAP France Holding, itself wholly owned by the German group, had deposited funds under a Cash Management Agreement as sight deposits carrying an interest of 0%. Following an audit for the financial years 2012 and 2013, two assessment proposals were issued in December 2015 and November 2016, relating in particular to the 0% interest rate charged on the cash deposits. The tax authorities had added interest to SA SAP France’s taxable income calculated by reference to the rate of remuneration on sight deposits. SAP France contested the adjustments and furthermore requested the benefit of the reduced rate of corporation tax on income from industrial property, pursuant to ... Continue to full case
Denmark vs. Codan Forsikring A/S, August 2022, Eastern High Court, Case no BS-11370/2020

Denmark vs. Codan Forsikring A/S, August 2022, Eastern High Court, Case no BS-11370/2020

This case concerns pricing of four reinsurance agreements concluded between Codan Forsikring A/S (Codan) and a controlled Irish company, RSA Reinsurance Ireland Ltd. for FY 2010-2013. The tax authorities had increased Codan’s taxable income for FY 2010, 2011 and 2012 by DKK 23 million, DKK 25 million, and DKK 18 million and reduced the taxable income for FY 2013 by DKK 4 million. At issue was whether the expenses incurred by Codan under the reinsurance agreements with RSA Ireland were commercially justified and thus deductible. If so, there were questions as to whether the reinsurance agreements had been concluded at arm’s length. By decision of 26 June 2019 the Tax Court reduced the assessment to DKK 0 for the 2010-2012 tax years and upheld Codan’s taxable income for FY 2013. An appeal was filed by the tax authorities. Judgement of the Eastern High Court The ... Continue to full case
Netherlands vs "Owner B.V.", July 2022, District Court, Case No. ECLI:NL:RBNHO:2022:6584

Netherlands vs “Owner B.V.”, July 2022, District Court, Case No. ECLI:NL:RBNHO:2022:6584

Owner B.V. was set up by a number of investors to acquire a Belgian entity with Dutch subsidiaries. After the acquisition the Dutch subsidiaries were merged into a fiscal unity with Owner B.V. Interest in an amount of EUR 1.7 million due on the debt related to the acquisition was considered by the court not deductible under section 10a of the Vpb Act. In addition, Owner B.V.’s profit had been reduced by EUR 6.0 million by interest on shareholder loans. The court deemed that 4.5 million of this amount was not deductible by virtue of fraus legis. The court further ruled that part of the costs charged to the Dutch company qualified as financing costs and could be deducted. Excerpts “5.8. The defendant has argued that under Section 8b of the Vpb Act, a full recharacterisation of the loans can and should take place, which ... Continue to full case
UK vs BlackRock, July 2022, Upper Tribunal, Case No [2022] UKUT 00199 (TCC)

UK vs BlackRock, July 2022, Upper Tribunal, Case No [2022] UKUT 00199 (TCC)

In 2009 the BlackRock Group acquired Barclays Global Investors for a total sum of $13,5bn. The price was paid in part by shares ($6.9bn) and in part by cash ($6.6bn). The cash payment was paid by BlackRock Holdco 5 LLC – a US Delaware Company tax resident in the UK – but funded by the parent company by issuing $4bn loan notes to the LLC. In the years following the acquisition Blackrock Holdco 5 LLC claimed tax deductions in the UK for interest payments on the intra-group loans. Following an audit in the UK the tax authorities disallowed the interest deductions. The tax authorities held that the transaction would not have happened between independent parties. They also found that the loans were entered into for an unallowable tax avoidance purpose. A UK taxpayer can be denied a deduction for interest where a loan has an ... Continue to full case
Portugal vs "L.... Engenharia e Construções, S.A.", June 2022, Tribunal Central Administrativo Sul, Case 1339/13.0BELRA

Portugal vs “L…. Engenharia e Construções, S.A.”, June 2022, Tribunal Central Administrativo Sul, Case 1339/13.0BELRA

At issue was an interest free loan granted by “L…. Engenharia e Construções, S.A.” to a related party. The loan had been granted before the parties became related following an acquisition in 2007. The tax authorities had issued an assessment where the interest had been determined to 1.4% based on the interest rate that would later apply to the loan according to the agreement. An appeal was filed by “L…. Engenharia e Construções, S.A.” with the Administrative Court, where the assessment was later set aside. An appeal was then filed by the tax authorities with the Administrative Court of Appeal. Judgement of the Court The Administrative Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the administrative court, dismissed the appeal of the tax authorities and annulled the assessment. Excerpt “In this regard, it cannot be ignored that the contract entered into by the Claimant with the ... Continue to full case
Poland vs "Shopping Centre Developer sp.k.", June 2022, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No II FSK 3050/19

Poland vs “Shopping Centre Developer sp.k.”, June 2022, Supreme Administrative Court, Case No II FSK 3050/19

A Polish company, “Shopping Centre Lender sp.k.”, had been granted three intra group loans in FY 2013 for a maximum amount of EUR 2 million, EUR 115 million and EUR 43.5 million. The interest rate on the loans had been set at 9%. The tax authorities found that the 9% interest rate was higher than the arm’s length rate, and issued an assessment where the interest rate had been lowered to 3.667%, resulting in lower interest expenses and thus additional taxable income. “Shopping Centre Lender sp.k.” filed an appeal with the Administrative Court claiming that the procedure for estimating income – determining the arm’s length interest rate – had not been conducted correctly by the tax authority. In a judgement issued in May 2019 (no. III SA/Wa 1777/18) the Administrative Court issued a judgement in favour of the company. An appeal was then filed by ... Continue to full case
Italy vs BASF Italia s.p.a., June 2022, Supreme Court, Cases No 19728/2022

Italy vs BASF Italia s.p.a., June 2022, Supreme Court, Cases No 19728/2022

The German BASF group is active in the chemical industry and has subsidiaries all over the world including Italy. In FY 2006 BASF Italia s.p.a. was served with two notices of assessment by the tax authorities. The tax assessments formulated three findings. 1. non-deductibility of the cancellation deficit – arising from the merger by incorporation of Basf Agro s.p.a. into Basf Italia s.p.a., resolved on 27 April 2004 – which the acquiring company had allocated to goodwill, the amortisation portions of which had been deducted in tenths and then, from 2005, in eighteenths. The Office had denied the deductibility on the ground that the company, in the declaration submitted electronically, had not expressly requested, as required by Article 6(4) of Legislative Decree No. 358 of 8 October 1997, the tax recognition of the greater value of goodwill recorded in the balance sheet to offset the ... Continue to full case
Norway vs Petrolia Noco AS, May 2022, Court of Appeal, Case No LB-2022-18585

Norway vs Petrolia Noco AS, May 2022, Court of Appeal, Case No LB-2022-18585

In 2011, Petrolia SE established a wholly owned subsidiary in Norway – Petrolia Noco AS – to conduct oil exploration activities on the Norwegian shelf. From the outset, Petrolia Noco AS received a loan from the parent company Petrolia SE. The written loan agreement was first signed later on 15 May 2012. The loan limit was originally MNOK 100 with an agreed interest rate of 3 months NIBOR with the addition of a margin of 2.25 percentage points. When the loan agreement was formalized in writing in 2012, the agreed interest rate was changed to 3 months NIBOR with the addition of an interest margin of 10 percentage points. The loan limit was increased to MNOK 150 in September 2012, and then to MNOK 330 in April 2013. In the tax return for 2012 and 2013, Petrolia Noco AS demanded a full deduction for actual ... Continue to full case
Netherlands vs "Fertilizer BV", April 2022, Court of Appeal, Case No. ECLI:NL:GHSHE:2022:1198

Netherlands vs “Fertilizer BV”, April 2022, Court of Appeal, Case No. ECLI:NL:GHSHE:2022:1198

In 2016 Fertilizer BV had been issued a tax assessment for FY 2012 in which the tax authorities had imposed additional taxable income of €133,076,615. In November 2019 the district court ruled predominantly in favor of the tax authorities but reduced the adjustment to €78.294.312. An appel was filed by Fertilizer BV with the Court of Appeal. Judgement of the Court of Appeal Various issues related to the assessment was disputed before the Court. Dispute 1: Allocation of debt and equity capital to a permanent establishment in Libya in connection with the application of the object exemption. More specifically, the dispute is whether the creditworthiness of the head office was correctly taken as a starting point and a sufficient adjustment was made for the increased risk profile of the permanent establishment. The Court of Appeal answered this question in the affirmative, referring to the capital ... Continue to full case
Poland vs D. Sp. z oo, April 2022, Administrative Court, Case No I SA/Bd 128/22

Poland vs D. Sp. z oo, April 2022, Administrative Court, Case No I SA/Bd 128/22

D. Sp. z oo had deducted interest expenses on intra-group loans and expenses related to intra-group services in its taxable income for FY 2015. The loans and services had been provided by a related party in Delaware, USA. Following a inspection, the tax authority issued an assessment where deductions for these costs had been denied resulting in additional taxable income. In regards to the interest expenses the authority held that the circumstances of the transactions indicated that they were made primarily in order to achieve a tax advantage contrary to the object and purpose of the Tax Act (reduction of the tax base by creating a tax cost in the form of interest on loans to finance the purchase of own assets), and the modus operandi of the participating entities was artificial, since under normal trading conditions economic operators, guided primarily by economic objectives and ... Continue to full case
Japan vs Universal Music Corp, April 2022, Supreme Court, Case No 令和2(行ヒ)303

Japan vs Universal Music Corp, April 2022, Supreme Court, Case No 令和2(行ヒ)303

An intercompany loan in the form of a so-called international debt pushdown had been issued to Universal Music Japan to acquire the shares of another Japanese group company. The tax authority found that the loan transaction had been entered for the principal purpose of reducing the tax burden in Japan and issued an assessment where deductions of the interest payments on the loan had been disallowed for tax purposes. The Tokyo District Court decided in favour of Universal Music Japan and set aside the assessment. The Court held that the loan did not have the principle purpose of reducing taxes because the overall restructuring was conducted for valid business purposes. Therefore, the tax authorities could not invoke the Japanese anti-avoidance provisions to deny the interest deductions. In 2020 the decision of the district court was upheld by the Tokyo High Court. The tax authorities then ... Continue to full case
Denmark vs Maersk Oil and Gas A/S, March 2022, Regional Court, Case No BS-41574/2018 and BS-41577/2018

Denmark vs Maersk Oil and Gas A/S, March 2022, Regional Court, Case No BS-41574/2018 and BS-41577/2018

A Danish parent in the Maersk group’s oil and gas segment, Maersk Oil and Gas A/S (Mogas), had operating losses for FY 1986 to 2010, although the combined segment was highly profitable. The reoccurring losses was explained by the tax authorities as being a result of the group’s transfer pricing setup. “Mogas and its subsidiaries and branches are covered by the definition of persons in Article 2(1) of the Tax Act, which concerns group companies and permanent establishments abroad, it being irrelevant whether the subsidiaries and branches form part of local joint ventures. Mogas bears the costs of exploration and studies into the possibility of obtaining mining licences. The expenditure is incurred in the course of the company’s business of exploring for oil and gas deposits. The company is entitled to deduct the costs in accordance with Section 8B(2) of the Danish Income Tax Act ... Continue to full case
Norway vs Fortis Petroleum Norway AS, March 2022, Court of Appeal, Case No LB-2021-26379

Norway vs Fortis Petroleum Norway AS, March 2022, Court of Appeal, Case No LB-2021-26379

In 2009-2011 Fortis Petroleum Norway AS (FPN) bought seismic data related to oil exploration in the North Sea from a related party, Petroleum GeoServices AS (PGS), for NKR 95.000.000. FBN paid the amount by way of a convertible intra-group loan from PGS in the same amount. FPN also purchased administrative services from another related party, Consema, and later paid a substantial termination fee when the service contract was terminated. The acquisition costs, interest on the loan, costs for services and termination fees had all been deducted in the taxable income of the company for the years in question. Central to this case is the exploration refund scheme on the Norwegian shelf. This essentially means that exploration companies can demand cash payment of the tax value of exploration costs, cf. the Petroleum Tax Act § 3 letter c) fifth paragraph. If the taxpayer does not have ... Continue to full case
Portugal vs "A S.A.", March 2022, CAAD - Administrative Tribunal, Case No : 213/2021-T

Portugal vs “A S.A.”, March 2022, CAAD – Administrative Tribunal, Case No : 213/2021-T

A S.A. is 51% owned by B SA and 49% by C Corp. A S.A is active in development of energy efficiency projects. In 2015 A S.A took out loans from B and C at an annual interest rate of 3.22xEuribor 12 months, plus a spread of 14%. A S.A had also paid for services to related party D. The tax authorities issued an assessment related to the interest rate on the loan and the service purportedly received and paid for. A complaint was filed by A S.A. with the Administrative Tribunal (CAAD). Judgement of the CAAD The complaint of A S.A was dismissed and the assessment upheld. Excerpts regarding the interest rate “Now, regarding the first argument, it falls immediately by the base, since the Applicant has not proved that it had made any effort to finance itself with the bank and that this ... Continue to full case
Spain vs "XZ SA", March 2022, TEAC, Case No Rec. 4377-2018

Spain vs “XZ SA”, March 2022, TEAC, Case No Rec. 4377-2018

“XZ SA” is a Spanish parent of a tax consolidation group which is part of a multinational group. The Spanish group participates in the group’s cash pooling system, both as a borrower and as a provider of funds. The objective of cash pooling agreements is to manage the cash positions of the participating entities, optimising the group’s financial results by channelling the excess liquidity of the group companies that generate it to the group companies that need financing, resorting to third-party financing when the group itself is not able to finance itself. This achieves greater efficiency in the use of the group’s funds, as well as improving their profitability and reducing the administrative and general financial costs of the entities participating in the agreement. The tax authorities issued an assessment in which the interest rates on deposits and withdraws had been aligned and determined based ... Continue to full case