Google moved nearly €20bn through Dutch shell firm: Reuters

Google moved €19.9bn through a Dutch shell company to Bermuda in 2017, as part of an arrangement to reduce its foreign tax bill, international news agency Reuters has reported. The figures come from documents filed at the Dutch Chamber of Commerce last month. The filings show the amount channeled through Google Netherlands Holdings BV was around €4bn more than in 2016 and €5bn more than in 2015. The Dutch shell company, which has no staff and is based in Amsterdam's Zuidas business district, is used to shift revenue from royalties earned outside the United States to Google Ireland Holdings. This is an affiliate based in Bermuda, where companies pay no income tax. The tax strategy, known as the 'Double Irish, Dutch Sandwich' is legal but Ireland is planning to phase out the agreement in 2020. Google told Reuters in a statement that the company pays 'all of the taxes due and comply with the tax laws in every country we operate in around the world.' The Netherlands does not currently tax royalties, but is planning to change this as part of a package of measures to crack down on tax evasion in 2021. Some 10,000 shell, or letter-box, companies are based in the Netherlands and are primarily used to shift corporate earnings and obscure ownership. Google has used its Dutch affiliate to move money since 2004.  More >

Consumer confidence drops eight points

The Dutch consumer confidence index has fallen for the sixth month in a row, and January's dip is the biggest in seven years, the national statistics agency CBS said on Tuesday. Consumers have both more doubts about the economic climate in general and are less willing to spend money, the CBS said. The index has fallen by eight points to 1 this month, compared with a highest ever standing of 36 in January 2000. The index fell to as low as -41 in 2013. The CBS also said on Tuesday that consumer spending rose 2% in November, compared with the year earlier period. In particular, spending rose on durable goods - mainly closing and household apparatus.   More >

'Sony moves European ops from UK to NL'

Sony is planning to merge its European business into its Dutch arm to soften the impact of a no-deal Brexit, Britain's Telegraph newspaper said on Monday. The unit will be responsible for the Tokyo giant’s electronics business in Europe and the deal will be completed on March 29 2019, the paper says. It bases its claims on merger documents. According to the Dutch chamber of trade documents, Sony Europe BV was established in May last year and the merger documents with Sony Europe Limited were deposited with the chamber in November. The company's statutory base is Hoofddorp, near Schiphol airport. Earlier, Japan's Panasonic said it is moving its headquarters from London to the Netherlands. Big Japanese bank Mitsubishi UFG has also decided to make Amsterdam its new European base for investment banking.   More >

40,000 sign 'keep XS4All' petition

Almost 40,000 people have signed a petition calling on telecoms group KPN not to drop its XS4All brand, and company officials have now agreed to meet the protestors for talks, the AD said on Monday. KPN announced earlier this month that it would drop its Telfort, Telfort Zakelijk, XS4All and Yes Telecom labels to focus on the KPN brand. XS4Allwas started in 1993 by four students after they lost access to the university internet network. It grew rapidly and was bought by KPN in 1998 but remained an independent entity within the group. The brand is particularly praised for its customer service. 'We want to see how we can maintain XS4All's independence and how the provider can play an important social role,' campaigner Kirsten Verdel, who used to work for the company, told the AD. The AD says that KPN estimated no more than 5% of subscribers would leave if the brand label was dropped but now fears a much larger number will leave. KPN has not said when the label will go and continues to advertise XS4All on the radio.  More >

Passengers happier with NS service

Dutch railway company NS is doing a better job than in 2017, with 86% of travellers giving the state-owned firm a score of at least seven out of 10. In the last survey, 80% of passengers ranked the service worthy of at least seven points.  In 2004, when the surveys began, just two-thirds of travellers considered the NS to be worthy of such a high approval rating. The research was carried out by the NS itself among over 45,000 passengers. Approval of the friendliness of staff has risen from 91% to 92% while 68% now rate the hygiene on trains at least a seven. NS customer service specialist Thijs Urlings said increased punctuality, new trains and revamped stations have all had an impact. 'In addition, there were fewer breakdowns and that too has influenced passengers,' he said. 'A sunny summer and good economic prospects also help people be more positive.'  More >

Philips moves UK production to Friesland

Philips is closing its last remaining factory in Britain and transferring production to Drachten in Friesland, the company has confirmed. The plan involves closing the Philips factory in Glemsford in the southern county of Suffolk, with the loss of 430 jobs, in 2020. The factory makes products for babies. Neil Mesher, chief executive of Philips UK and Ireland, told the East Anglian Daily Times the closure was part of a wider global strategy and would have been made 'regardless of Brexit'. The company said earlier that it is reducing its number of manufacturing bases from 50 to 30 as part of its plan to focus on healthcare technology. As yet it is unclear how many jobs will be transferred to Drachten. Philips currently employs some 2,000 people in the northern town, who make shaving apparatus and develop household products.  More >