MPs urge HMRC chief to investigate shareholder dealings in GKN takeover

- in World News


A Labour and a Conservative MP have written to Britain’s most senior tax collector complaining that a substantial proportion of shares in GKN, the target of a hostile takeover bid, are being controlled by short-term investors in such a way that they will not have to pay tax if their shares are acquired by Melrose. Labour MP Jack Dromey, who represents Birmingham Erdington, and Conservative MP Jeremy Lefroy, who represents Stafford, told the chief executive of HM Revenue & Customs, Jon Thompson, they were unhappy that a chunk of the engineering group was controlled by arbitrageurs holding shares via derivatives, meaning they were not liable for stamp duty on disposal.

“What is of particular concern, however, is that the fate of GKN could well be decided by a group of predatory short-term investors who have no interests in the sustainability of the business beyond the next few weeks. There are now reports that these same short-term funds will make this decision without paying stamp duty on their shares,” the two wrote.

The letter represents a last-minute political intervention as the deadline for Melrose’s £7.8bn hostile bid looms. The closely fought takeover battle concludes at 1pm on Thursday, with the situation finely balanced

GKN and its political supporters have argued that turnaround specialist Melrose has a short-term approach and will restructure GKN and sell it on in parts over the next three to five years; Melrose counters by saying it has a proven record in building shareholder value.

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