Category: TPG2022 Chapter IX: Transfer Pricing Aspects of Business Restructurings

TPG2022 Chapter IX paragraph 9.131

In determining which party(ies) should be attributed the location savings at arm’s length, it will be important to consider the functions, risks and assets of the parties, as well as the options realistically available to each of them. In this example, assume that there is a high demand for the type of engineering services that the company in Country X sells. Assume also that the subsidiary in Country Y is the only company operating in a lower-cost location that is able to provide such services with the required quality standard, and Company Y is able to withstand competitive pricing pressures because the technical know-how it has established acts as a barrier to competition. Furthermore, the company in Country X does not have the option of engaging qualified engineers in Country X to provide these services, as the cost of their wages would be too high ... Continue to full case

TPG2022 Chapter IX paragraph 9.130

As another example, assume now that an enterprise in Country X provides highly specialised and quality engineering services to independent clients. It charges a fee to its independent clients based on a fixed hourly rate that compares with the hourly rate charged by competitors for similar services in the same market. Suppose that the wages for qualified engineers in Country X are high. The enterprise subsequently subcontracts a large part of its engineering work to a new subsidiary in Country Y. The subsidiary in Country Y hires equally qualified engineers to those in Country X for substantially lower wages, thus deriving significant location savings for the group formed by the enterprise and its subsidiary Clients continue to deal directly with the enterprise in Country X and are not necessarily aware of the sub-contracting arrangement. For some period of time, the well-known enterprise in Country X ... Continue to full case

TPG2022 Chapter IX paragraph 9.129

In such an example, given that the relocated activity is a highly competitive one, it is likely that the enterprise in Country A has the option realistically available to it to use either the affiliate in Country B or a third party manufacturer. As a consequence, it should be possible to find comparables data to determine the conditions in which a third party would be willing at arm’s length to manufacture the clothes for the enterprise. In such a situation, a contract manufacturer at arm’s length would generally be attributed very little, if any, part of the location savings. Doing otherwise would put the associated manufacturer in a situation different from the situation of an independent manufacturer, and would be contrary to the arm’s length principle ... Continue to full case

TPG2022 Chapter IX paragraph 9.128

Take the example of an enterprise that designs, manufactures and sells brand name clothes. Assume that the manufacturing process is basic and that the brand name is famous and represents a highly valuable intangible. Assume that the enterprise is established in Country A where the labour costs are high and that it decides to close down its manufacturing activities in Country A and to relocate them in an affiliate company in Country B where labour costs are significantly lower. The enterprise in Country A retains the rights on the brand name and continues designing the clothes. Further to this restructuring, the clothes will be manufactured by the affiliate in Country B under a contract manufacturing arrangement. The arrangement does not involve the use of any significant intangible owned by or licensed to the affiliate or the assumption of any significant risks by the affiliate in ... Continue to full case

TPG2022 Chapter IX paragraph 9.127

Where significant location savings are derived further to a business restructuring, the question arises of whether and if so how the location savings should be shared among the parties. In addressing this matter, the guidance in Section D.6 of Chapter I is relevant ... Continue to full case

TPG2022 Chapter IX paragraph 9.126

Location savings can be derived by an MNE group that relocates some of its activities to a place where costs (such as labour costs, real estate costs, etc.) are lower than in the location where the activities were initially performed, account being taken of the possible costs involved in the relocation (such as termination costs for the existing operation, possibly higher infrastructure costs in the new location, possibly higher transportation costs if the new operation is more distant from the market, training costs of local employees, etc.). Where a business strategy aimed at deriving location savings is put forward as a business reason for restructuring, the discussion in Section D. 1.5 of Chapter I is relevant ... Continue to full case

TPG2022 Chapter IX paragraph 9.125

There will also be cases where before-and-after comparisons can be made because the transactions prior to the restructuring were not controlled, for instance where the restructuring follows an acquisition, and where adjustments can reliably be made to account for the differences between the pre-restructuring uncontrolled transactions and the post-restructuring controlled transactions. See example at paragraph 9.110. Whether such uncontrolled transactions provide reliable comparables would have to be evaluated in light of the guidance at paragraph 3.2 ... Continue to full case

TPG2022 Chapter IX paragraph 9.124

Based on these findings, it can be concluded that Company A continues to perform the same functions and assume the same risks as before the restructuring took place. In particular, Company A continues to have the capability and actually performs control functions in relation to the risk of exploitation of the intangibles. It also carries on the functions related to the development, maintenance and execution of the worldwide marketing strategy. Company Z has no capability to perform control functions, and does not in fact perform the control functions needed to assume the intangible related risks. Accordingly, the accurate delineation of the transaction after the restructuring may lead to the conclusion that this is in substance a funding arrangement between Company A and Company Z, rather than a restructuring for the centralisation of intangible management. An assessment may be necessary of the commercial rationality of the ... Continue to full case

TPG2022 Chapter IX paragraph 9.123

Then a restructuring takes place. Legal ownership of the trademarks, trade names and other intangibles represented by the brand is transferred by Company A to a newly set up affiliate, Company Z in Country Z in exchange for a lump sum payment. After the restructuring, Company A is remunerated on a cost plus basis for the services it performs for Company Z and the rest of the group. The remuneration of the affiliated contract manufacturers and distributors remains the same. The remaining profits after remuneration of the contract manufacturers, distributors, and Company A head office services are paid to Company Z. The accurate delineation of the transactions before and after the restructuring determines that: Company Z is managed by a local trust company. It does not have people (employees or directors) who have the capability to perform, and who in fact do not perform control ... Continue to full case

TPG2022 Chapter IX paragraph 9.122

For example, an MNE manufactures and distributes products the value of which is not determined by the technical features of the products, but rather by consumer recognition of the brand. The MNE wants to differentiate itself from its competitors through the development of brands with great value, by implementing a carefully developed and expensive marketing strategy. The trademarks, trade names and other intangibles represented by the brand are owned by Company A in Country A and Company A assumes the risks associated with the ownership, development and exploitation of those intangibles. The development, maintenance and execution of a worldwide marketing strategy are the main value drivers of the MNE, performed by 125 employees at Company A’s head office. The value of the intangibles results in a high consumer price for the products. Company A’s head office also provides central services for the group affiliates (e.g ... Continue to full case

TPG2022 Chapter IX paragraph 9.121

The analysis of the business before and after the restructuring may reveal that while some functions, assets and risks were transferred, other functions may still be carried out by the “stripped” entity. Typically, as part of the restructuring the entity may have been purportedly stripped of intangibles or risk, but after the restructuring it continues to carry out some or all of the functions it previously performed. Following the restructuring, however, the “stripped” entity performs those functions under contract to a foreign associated enterprise. The accurate delineation of the actual transaction between the foreign associated enterprise and the “stripped” entity will determine the actual commercial or financial relations between them, including whether the contractual terms are consistent with the conduct of the parties and other facts of the case. Arm’s length compensation for each party should be consistent with its actual functions performed, assets used ... Continue to full case

TPG2022 Chapter IX paragraph 9.120

That being said, in business restructurings, before-and-after comparisons could play a role in understanding the restructuring itself and could be part of a before-and-after comparability (including functional) analysis to understand the changes that accounted for the changes in the allocation of profit/loss amongst the parties. In effect, information on the arrangements that existed prior to the restructuring and on the conditions of the restructuring itself could be essential to understand the context in which the post-restructuring arrangements were put in place and to assess whether such arrangements are arm’s length. It can also shed light on the options realistically available to the restructured entity. (See paragraphs 9.27-9.31 for a discussion of options realistically available; see also paragraphs 9.102-9.106 for a discussion of possible factual differences between situations that result from a restructuring and situations that were structured as such from the beginning and of how ... Continue to full case

TPG2022 Chapter IX paragraph 9.119

Another issue with before-and-after comparisons is the likely difficulty of valuing the basket of functions, assets and risks that were lost by the restructured entity, keeping in mind that it is not always the case that these functions, assets and risks are transferred to another party ... Continue to full case

TPG2022 Chapter IX paragraph 9.118

One important issue with such before-and-after comparisons is that a comparison of the profits from the post-restructuring controlled transactions with the profits made in controlled transactions prior to the restructuring would not suffice given Article 9 of the OECD Model Tax Convention provides for a comparison to be made with uncontrolled transactions. Comparisons of a taxpayer’s controlled transactions with other controlled transactions are irrelevant to the application of the arm’s length principle and therefore should not be used by a tax administration as the basis for a transfer pricing adjustment or by a taxpayer to support its transfer pricing policy ... Continue to full case

TPG2022 Chapter IX paragraph 9.117

A relevant question is the role if any of comparisons that can be made of the profits actually earned by a party to a controlled transaction prior to and after the restructuring. In particular, it can be asked whether it would be appropriate to determine a restructured entity’s post-restructuring profits by reference to its pre-restructuring profits, adjusted to reflect the transfer or relinquishment of particular functions, assets and risks ... Continue to full case

TPG2022 Chapter IX paragraph 9.116

In other words, in this situation where the taxpayer will have an ongoing business relationship as supplier to the foreign associated enterprise that carries on an activity previously carried on by the taxpayer, the taxpayer and the foreign associated enterprise have the opportunity to obtain economic and commercial benefits through that relationship (e.g. the sale price of goods) which may explain for instance why compensation through an up-front capital payment for transfer of the business was foregone, or why the future transfer price for the products might be different from the prices that would have been agreed absent a restructuring operation. In practice, however, it might be difficult to structure and monitor such an arrangement. While taxpayers are free to choose the form of compensation payments, whether up-front or over time, tax administrations when reviewing such arrangements would want to know how the compensation for ... Continue to full case

TPG2022 Chapter IX paragraph 9.115

Another example would be where a taxpayer that operates a manufacturing and distribution activity restructures by disposing of its distribution activity to a foreign associated enterprise to which the taxpayer will in the future sell the goods it manufactures. The foreign associated enterprise would expect to be able to earn an arm’s length reward for its investment in acquiring and operating the business. In this situation, the taxpayer might agree with the foreign associated enterprise to forgo receipt of part or all of the up-front compensation for the business that may be payable at arm’s length, and instead obtain comparable financial benefit over time through selling its goods to the foreign associated enterprise at prices that are higher than the latter would otherwise agree to if the up-front compensation had been paid. Alternatively, the parties might agree to set an up-front compensation payment for the ... Continue to full case

TPG2022 Chapter IX paragraph 9.114

There may in some circumstances be an important inter-relationship between the compensation for the restructuring and an arm’s length reward for operating the business post-restructuring. This can be the case where a taxpayer disposes of business operations to an associated enterprise with which it must then transact business as part of those operations. One example of such a relationship is found in paragraph 9.74 regarding outsourcing ... Continue to full case

TPG2022 Chapter IX paragraph 9.113

The identification of potential comparables has to be made with the objective of finding the most reliable comparables data in the circumstances of the case, keeping in mind the limitations that may exist in availability of information and the compliance costs involved (see paragraphs 3.2 and 3.80). It is recognised that the data will not always be perfect. There are also cases where comparables data are not found, for instance where the restructuring has led to fragmentation of integrated functions across several group companies in a way that is not found between unrelated parties. This does not necessarily mean that the conditions of the controlled transaction as accurately delineated are not arm’s length. Notwithstanding the difficulties that can arise in the process of searching comparables, it is necessary to find a reasonable solution to all transfer pricing cases. Following the guidance at paragraph 2.2, even ... Continue to full case

TPG2022 Chapter IX paragraph 9.112

Whenever a comparable is proposed, it is important to ensure that a comparability analysis of the controlled and uncontrolled transactions is performed in order to identify material differences, if any, between them and, where necessary and possible, to adjust for such differences. In particular, the comparability analysis might reveal that the restructured entity continues to perform valuable and significant functions and/or the presence of local intangibles and/or of economically significant risks that remain in the “stripped” entity after the restructuring but are not found in the proposed comparables. See Section A on the possible differences between restructured activities and start-up situations ... Continue to full case