£3.5 billion – the cost of tax avoidance

Posted on

The Wall Street Journal article referred to below concerns an obscure Delaware corporation, Augustus Funding LLC. It so happens however that the LLC in question traded in the UK so we know rather more about it than normal.

One thing we know is how much it’s UK parent, Sixtus Funding Limited put into this scheme, presumably on behalf of its ultimate parent company, Barclays Bank plc. The issued capital of Augustus Funding LLC was US$6,354 million (yes, that’s $6.3 billion dollars).

Translated into sterling that’s about £3.5 billion. Which gives it a market worth of about the same sum since this is a solid asset backed company.

So where does that place this obscure LLC in the pantheon of UK companies? Well, at about 87 in the FTSE 100, for starters (data as of 30 June). It’s worth more than Schroders, Capita, Enterprise Inns, Johnson Matthey, Tate & Lyle and Rentokil, for example. It’s worth only very slightly less than Persimmon, the UK’s biggest house builder, and Royal Sun Alliance, one of its bigger life insurers. In fact, it’s worth about 10% of the whole value of Barclays.

This gives some perspective to the resources the banks will throw at tax avoidance. When we say we think it’s a core part of their business, we mean it. And this is the evidence.