TELE2 announces SEK 1,8 billion victory in Swedish Courts

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In a press release dated November 7, 2022, TELE2 announced a SEK 1,8 billion win related to tax deductions for foreign exchange losses on intra-group loans, that had previously been disallowed by the Swedish tax authorities in an assessment issued back in 2019.

According to the tax authorities the company would not – at arms length – have agreed to a currency conversion of certain intra-group loans which resulted in the loss.

Tele2 appealed the decision to the Administrative Court where, during the proceedings, the authorities acknowledged deductions in part of the currency loss – SEK 745 millions. Hence, at issue before the Court was disallowed deductions of the remaining amount of SEK 1 billion. In January 2021 the administrative court dismissed TELE2’s appeal in regards of the remaining amount of SEK 1 billion.

Tele2 then filed an appeal with the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal decided in favour of Tele2 and granted the full tax deduction. According to the court, a reasonable and probable explanation for the currency loss had been provided by the company.

Excerpts:
” Although it may be considered somewhat remarkable that the revocation clause in the Form of Selection Note does not more clearly reflect the party intent and purpose that the company claims the clause has, the Court of Appeal considers that the company has provided a reasonable and probable explanation in this respect.

The Court of Appeal also considers that the alleged intention of the parties and the purpose of the withdrawal clause are supported by the chronology of events leading up to the buy-out of Asianet from MTS. When it became clear that the transaction would go ahead, the withdrawal clause was removed, moreover without changing the market interest rate on the loans to MTS. In addition, the Court of Appeal considers that there is some ambiguity in how the revocation clause should be read with regard to the possibility of revoking the conversion retroactively, i.e. with effect from 1 September 2015.
In conclusion, the Court of Appeal considers that it is not clear that it has been a realistic option for the company to withdraw the conversion on the basis of the withdrawal clause. The fact that the company did not revoke the conversion cannot therefore be used as a basis for denying the company a deduction for the remaining exchange rate loss of SEK 1 095 764 000 after tax on the basis of the adjustment rule.

The Administrative Court of Appeal considers that the company incurred a risk of foreign exchange losses through the conversion on 1 September 2015 due to the decoupling of the KZT from the USD. However, the decoupling took place on 20 August 2015, at which time the KZT exchange rate fell by approximately 30%. Subsequently, the exchange rate recovered and at the time of the conversion, according to the company’s report, which was not challenged by the Swedish Tax Agency, it was slightly higher than at the time of the decoupling from the USD. Although there must have been a significant risk of a further fall in the exchange rate, the Court of Appeal considers that KZT could not be considered to be in free fall at the time of conversion. Nor can it be considered that it was clear that it was highly unlikely that the conversion would not result in an exchange rate loss for the company. It also appears that a functioning banking and foreign exchange market existed in Kazakhstan after the KZT was decoupled from the USD.
The interest rate received by the company from MTS both before and after the conversion has been in line with market conditions. The Administrative Court of Appeal has also, as stated above, found no reason to question the company’s description of how the conditions for MTS to repay the loans to the company improved after the conversion.
In conclusion, the Administrative Court of Appeal considers that the conversion cannot be used as a basis for denying the company a deduction for the remaining exchange loss of SEK 1 095 764 000 by means of after-taxation, on the basis of the correction rule. The appeal must therefore be allowed.”

 

TELE2 Press Release dated November 7, 2022

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