They’re only bluffing

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The Independent reports that:

Simon Walker, chief executive of the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (BVCA), has warned that growing resentment of government tax changes could cause as many as 100 buyout firms to quit Britain for tax havens abroad.

He said that he was aware of an increased number of approaches from Swiss tax authorities to London-based private equity firms and added:

Just as Lewis Hamilton made his private arrangements on tax, some cantons are now targeting our firms and directors to move their headquarters to Switzerland. With them may go many of the investors they bring to the UK, and that's not a comfortable thought.

Executives at Bridgepoint, Permira and Cinven also said they were aware of approaches by Swiss cantons to their companies and other private equity firms.

Now let's be clear why this is just a bluff. First, he could actually only suggest two were really considering moving. That's not 100. It's 98 short of 100. Second, Permira is already in Guernsey. In fact the capital gains of all these companies are already in 0% capital gains environments: Switzerland cannot beat that deal. Third, Switzerland does care about the OECD Code of Conduct on Business Taxation. Cutting deals for private equity companies would breach that agreement. Fourth, Switzerland is not the place to do private equity business: these companies would have to stay in London to do their work.

Let's ignore this as a bluff, because that is what it is.